US ethanol plants: what CO2 intensity?

CO2 emissions from US bio-ethanol plants

This data-file tabulates the CO2 emissions from US ethanol plants, which produce around 1Mbpd of liquid fuels, giving an average CO2 intensity of ethanol of 85kg/boe.


In addition, we estimate 75kg/boe is emitted in producing corn, and around 2 boe of corn are needed to make 1 boe of ethanol.

Thus bio-ethanol has a total CO2 intensity of 240kg/boe (this is c40-50% less than conventional oil products, on a fully-loaded Scope 1-3 basis).

Our data are based on granular disclosures from 170 separate facilities, which have reported to the EPA FLIGHT tool and to the EIA.

Hence we can use the data to screen for the CO2 intensity of ethanol production state by state and company by company.

Covered companies, ranked by ethanol capacity, include Poet, Valero, Great Plains, Koch, Marathon and White Energy.

CO2 intensity below 60kg/boe can be considered as ‘lower carbon’ while CO2 intensity above 90kg/boe would be considered ‘higher carbon’.

The data-file also breaks down 170 different ethanol production facilities in the US, facility-by-facility. There is c300kbpd in Iowa, and over 100kbpd in boh Illinois and Iowa.

The industry-leading ethanol producer is highlighted and discussed in this article  that was sent out to our distribution list.

Biofuel, green diesel, renewable diesel: where’s the IP?

patents filed into biofuels

This data-file tracks 5,000 patents filed into biofuels: by geography, by company and particularly in 2017-20. The pace of research activity into “biofuels” and “biodiesel” seems to have halved since 2014, suggesting industry interest is waning.

As usual, China has come to dominate the recent patent literature, accounting for 60% of recent filings. Out of the ‘Top 25’ patents filed into biofuels from 2017-20, 15 are Chinese companies.

Ranked by recent patent filings, technology leaders include Sinopec, BASF, Arkema, Neste, TOTAL, ExxonMobil and DuPont. It is interesting that some well known companies (e.g., Ryze) did not appear to have filed many patents recently. Full details on the patent trends and filings are in the data-file.

Our 3 key conclusions are spelled out in the green diesel article sent out to our distribution list.

Copyright: Thunder Said Energy, 2022.