The new energy bill signed Monday by President Bush is expected to expand the marketplace for corn and soybean growers by boosting the use of renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel. Pat Hilliard, the ethanol business manager for Johnston-based Pioneer Hi-Bred International, says 13-percent of the U-S corn crop is dedicated to ethanol production now and he’s eager to see still more acreage devoted to corn for use in brewing the clean-burning fuel. Pioneer has 121 ethanol varieties of corn that are characterized as “above average” for ethanol production potential, so he says it’s a “cake and eat it too” situation with high-yielding types of corn that are also high in their ability to be useful in making ethanol. The new energy bill more than doubles the amount of ethanol and biodiesel petroleum companies will be required to blend in by 2012. Hilliard says “Our nation’s crop producers are the most efficient growers in the world, and now they will have a further opportunity to put those high standards of efficiency to use in bolstering our country’s renewable fuel supply.” He says it’s an opportunity to capitalize on what’s been done in the past, driving up yields, as 60-percent of the cost of making ethanol is corn, so yield is very important. Iowa is the nation’s leader in ethanol production with 16 plants operating and at least 11 more under construction or in the planning stages. Hilliard says corn is the grain that’s most often used in making ethanol, but it’s not the only one. Elsewhere in the U-S, sorghum is also used in making ethanol. The U-S and Brazil are the world’s two major ethanol producers and in Brazil, they use sugar cane. While Iowa is already the nation’s leading ethanol maker, Hilliard sees much more room to create still more factories here to meet what he expects will be a growing demand for the renewable fuel.
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