Ethyl lactate, other co-products lift US ethanol economics

15 June 2010 18:31  [Source: ICIS news]

ST. LOUIS, Missouri (ICIS news)--The economics of corn-based US ethanol plants have been significantly improved by the output of ethyl lactate and other environmentally friendly co-products than can substitute for petroleum-based chemicals, a University of Illinois scientist said on Tuesday.

"It's really quite drastic what [co-products] can do for the life cycle of a plant," said Steffen Mueller, the principal research scientist at the university's Chicago campus.

Ethyl lactate is a biodegradable solvent formed from lactic acid and ethanol, and it is used in pharmaceutical applications, food additives and fragrances.

In addition to the help of co-product credits, the greater efficiency of ethanol plants was also helping the industry, Mueller told the annual Fuel Ethanol Workshop in St. Louis, Missouri.

According to a survey of ethanol producers conducted by Mueller and his associates, between 2001 and 2008 the plants reduced thermal energy use by 28%/gal, lowered electricity consumption by 32%/gal, and increased ethanol output by 5.3% per bushel of corn.

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By: Stephen Burns
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