Sophisticated grain ethanol production facilities have been utilizing engineering and design enhancements, new process technologies, automation upgrades, and other advances to make remarkable gains in efficiency to extract more out of each bushel of corn. On average, one bushel of corn processed by a dry mill ethanol plant can now produce:
- 2.92 gallons denatured fuel ethanol
- 15.86 pounds of distillers grains animal feed (10% moisture)
- 0.80 pounds of corn distillers oil for animal feed and biodiesel production
- 16.5 pounds of biogenic carbon dioxide for food, beverage and chemical manufacturing
In 2019, U.S. ethanol producers generated 39.6 million metric tons (mmt) of distillers grains, gluten feed and gluten meal. These bio-products are valuable corn and soybean meal substitutes in rations used around the world to feed beef and dairy cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, fish and other animals. In addition, ethanol plants extracted 3.8 billion pounds of corn distillers oil – a nearly $1 billion market underpinning the production of biodiesel and animal feed.
Now fully under the regulatory oversight of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, ethanol plants are required to comply with preventive controls requirements as mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
This federal rule requires covered facilities to follow current good manufacturing practices for animal food production and have a written food safety plan that includes an analysis of hazards and risk-based controls. These preventive controls provide a formal assurance to buyers around the world that American ethanol co-products continue to be safe feed ingredients.
U.S. ethanol producers also captured 5.8 billion pounds of high-grade biogenic CO₂ in 2019 for North American food/beverage and industrial markets. Further, the industry is actively engaged in promoting the groundbreaking deployment of carbon capture and sequestration in a pivotal step toward fighting climate change.