U.S. Ethanol Fuel Industry Expects 20 Percent Growth in 2006
November 8, 2006
The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) announced on October 31st that the U.S. ethanol industry is on track to increase its production by more than 20 percent in 2006. U.S. ethanol producers averaged 329,000 barrels per day in August, or nearly 14 million gallons. With no further increase in production, the industry would produce 4.7 billion gallons of ethanol this year, a number that will likely be exceeded. Even that conservative estimate is 20 percent greater than last year's production of 3.9 billion gallons. Currently, 106 ethanol refineries nationwide have the capacity to produce more than 5 billion gallons annually. There are 48 ethanol refineries and 7 expansions under construction with a combined annual capacity of more than 3.5 billion gallons. See the RFA press release.
The growth in the ethanol industry is being accompanied by greater innovation in the new ethanol facilities. For example, Panda Ethanol, Inc. broke ground in mid-September on its plant in Hereford, Texas, that will be fueled by gasifying up to 1 billion pounds of cattle manure each year. The company is planning two similar facilities in northern Texas and one in southwest Kansas. E3 Biofuels plans to build a similar plant in Mead, Nebraska, except that it will use anaerobic digesters to convert the manure to methane. And although natural gas will fuel a new plant under construction by Diversified Ethanol, a subsidiary of James Monroe Corporation, the company says it will also employ remote computer monitoring, biofiltration units (filtering air emissions through biologically active media), cold microwave technology (using ultrasonic waves to help break down the corn), and possibly cogeneration. See the press releases from Panda Energy, E3 Biofuels, and James Monroe Capital, including a press release on the cold microwave technology.