wheat ethanol

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Wheat Ethanol

Ethanol can be made out of different feedstocks, such as corn and barley. Perhaps a little less known fact is that ethanol can also be made out of wheat. Wheat ethanol is not as popular as corn, which accounts for 90% of the total because its productivity rate is lower. However, a wheat ethanol production facility is very similar to a corn one and conversion can be made with minor adjustments.

There seems to be a growing acceptance of wheat ethanol in Europe as the largest European plant started operating in January 2010 in the UK. Called Ensus, the wheat ethanol plant has a capacity of 106 million gallons per year. According to the companyís CEO Alwyn Hughes, in order to offset the plantís carbon footprint, it will be capturing more than 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide for use in the food and beverage industries.

Over in the United States, Terra Grain Fuels started operating in 2008 to the tune of $130 million and 40 million gallons of ethanol. The plant requires 15 million bushels of wheat per year, which the company says it sources locally.

As is the case with many types of biofuels, there are widespread concerns that wheat ethanol as diverts grain from the food system toward fuelling machines. The industry says there is enough wheat to supply both needs while critics, including researchers from University of Illinois, Darrel Good and Scott Irwin, believe that the use of food crops for biofuel causes food prices to rise. Besides, some critics also claim that biofuels may generate more greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuel. The debate is likely to rage on.