Food or Fuel

Missouri River, Feb 4, 2007.  The United States is diverting ever-increasing portions of their foodstocks to motor vehicle fuel production.  Will there be enough food left to feed the rest of the world?

Divide the United States in half along the Missouri River.  If you look east you will see primarily biodiesel plants.  Look west and you see mostly corn-based ethanol facilities.

Current Biodiesel plants:  580 million gallons

According to the U.S. National Biodiesel Board, there are currently 86 biodiesel plants operating in the United States.  Seventy percent of these facilities are east of the Missouri River.  These eighty-six facilities have the capacity to produce 580 million gallons of biodiesel fuel per year.

Under Construction:  1400 million gallons

Interestingly, there are 78 biodiesel plants under construction or expansion, and two-thirds of them will be built east of the Missouri River.  Newer facilities are typically larger than existing facilities.  Annual production capacity for plants under construction or expansion is 1.4 Billion gallons per year, so demand for biodiesel raw materials will triple when these go online.

Raw Materials

Just what do these biodiesel plants use for raw materials?  The larger plants historically have used soybean oil.  But in April 2007 in Velva, ND a large, 85 million gallon plant using canola oil – is slated to go online.  Some biodiesel production facilities can use multiple feedstocks such as soybean or canola oil, recycled cooking oil, poultry fat, trap grease, cottonseed oil, or tallow.

E Diesel

E diesel is similar to biodiesel, in that it is a blended fuel product made from diesel fuel and up to 15% added ethanol.  It has been shown to burn cleaner and reduce particulate emissions.  Check it out for yourself on the E Diesel page of the official Government website for the Nebraska Ethanol Board.

In the United States, ethanol production facilities use enormous amounts of corn as feedstock.  A future article will discuss ethanol production facilities in the United States.

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Explore posts in the same categories: autos, biodiesel, biofuels, energy, ethanol, foreign oil, fuel, oil, resources

2 Comments on “Food or Fuel”

  1. pebbleworm Says:

    Bio-fuels could prove a savior to our ailing sugar and coconut industry. In the case of coconuts, we’re not eating a lot of them anyway. We usually use press them for oil but competition has drastically reduced prices and coconut groves are left unmaintained or cut down for construction materials and firewood. So adding a little coco oil to diesel won’t have much an effect on availability of coco oil for cooking.

    Nice blog.

  2. resourceful Says:

    Thanks pebbleworm for the nice comment. Yes, I an adaptation to using coco oil in diesel may work well for your climate/geography/economy. I suspect coco-diesel would have a much more delicious aroma than what we are accustomed to smelling!


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