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Spotlights   | Summer 2011

U.S. at threshold of ethanol consumption

yellow cab filling up with ethanol and trunk open showing filled with corn

The United States doesn’t have the infrastructure to meet the federal mandate for renewable fuel use with ethanol alone but could meet the standard with significant increases in cellulosic and next-generation biofuels, according to a Purdue University study.

Agricultural economists Wally Tyner and Frank Dooley and former Purdue graduate student Daniela Viteri used U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency data to determine that the United States is at the “blending wall,” the saturation point for ethanol. Without new technology or a significant increase in infrastructure, Tyner predicts that the country will not be able to use more ethanol than is being currently produced.

The federal Renewable Fuel Standard requires an increase of renewable fuel production to 36 billion gallons per year by 2022. About 13 billion gallons of renewable fuel were required for 2010, the amount Tyner predicts is the threshold for U.S. infrastructure and consumption ability.

To read more about Tyner’s study, visit


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