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Using Breweries for Ethanol

Posted by Davbmn on 05/05/06 at 09:44 PM

imageWhy not use existing plants to make ethanol

Breweries here in the United States are some of the largest in the world, making millions of gallons of beer per year.  It only stands to reason the fastest and cheapest way to make ethanol for fuel would be to give these breweries an incentive to use their facilities and knowledge of brewing.

Prices at their current levels, which in turn makes ethanol prices a little higher, may just be enough for them to convert parts of their facilities to making ethanol, but these companies may want to see if prices will stay at these levels before making any capitol investment.  If the federal government demands 10% ethanol standards across the board then ethanol prices will increase making it more feesible to convert.

There are already some companies taking over old moth-balled breweries in the Northeast to try and make a go of it.  The problem is the ethanol producing plants in the midwest are way ahead of them in corn based ethanol production.  This may be the start of a trend outside of the corn belt.

These new start-ups in other parts of the country are going to need to make ethanol from cheaper sources such as wood chips and other by-products usually discarded by other industries.  This would give them an advantage over the corn-based ethanol as far as price is concerned and allow them to compete for contracts with refiners.

It will be years before ethanol will a viable product in the Northeast corridor, even with old breweries that have all of the equipment.  These old breweries need some upgrades and repairs before brewing can begin.  So for the next few years we will be relying on farmers in the midwest to provide us with enough ethanol to stabilize fuel prices and bring down our gasoloine consumption.

Here is a story in the New York Times about this new trend.

Here is a good article at boston.com on a company trying to make ethanol from alternative sources.

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