More details are being unveiled about a proposed 1,700 mile ethanol pipeline that would stretch from Iowa to New York harbor. Bruce Heine is spokesman for Oklahoma-based Magellan, one of two pipeline companies jointly considering the three-billion dollar project. Heine says it would be a win-win for Iowa, the nation’s top ethanol-producing state, and customers on the East Coast.
Heine says, "We think that it’s good for the ethanol-producing community from the standpoint that it offers diversification of transportation modes and diversification is a good thing to help ensure that a reliable, large amount of ethanol can be exported from the middle west to the eastern seaboard, where there’s a large demand."
Heine says one of the project’s major hurdles is the technical concern of transporting ethanol through a pipeline. Ethanol is not shipped via gasoline pipelines because of concerns the alcohol in the ethanol would corrode the pipes and absorb water.
Heine says ethanol tends to crack pipelines more often than diesel, jet fuel or gasoline. The industry is studying the "stress corrosion" cracking and may try to make preventative changes in the proposed ethanol-only pipeline itself or some type of additive may need to be injected into the fuel. He says the current proposal calls for three "hub" sites in Iowa.
He says ethanol producers could truck their fuel directly to one of the hubs, to be located near Mason City, Fort Dodge, and in O’Brien County, with other sites in Indiana and Ohio. The facilities would also have connections to several Iowa ethanol plants which could feed the pipeline directly. Heine says they hope Congress will secure a government loan guarantee to allow the project to be financially feasible. The pipeline would carry ten-million gallons of ethanol a day from the Midwest to the East Coast.