Single-use corn becoming more popular

Feb 02, 2015

It isn’t for feed and it isn’t for eating, which leaves…

By Diego Flammini,

It’s considered common knowledge that a majority of the corn that’s produced is used as feed for livestock and only a small amount is used for us humans to butter up and enjoy as part of a summertime barbecue.

Now, there’s a kind of corn specifically made for one single purpose – to make ethanol.

It’s called Enogen and it’s the newest product from seed powerhouse Syngenta. Currently, six ethanol plants in the Midwestern United States are already using it and seven others are giving it a trial run.

The corn looks just the same as any other corn, but it’s on the inside of the kernel where Enogen’s magic happens.

The corn has been altered so that inside the kernel it can produce an enzyme needed to make biofuel. Growers that have started using Enogen say it’s a more efficient way of producing ethanol because they don’t have to buy the enzyme known as alpha amylase separately and it saves them money on production and energy costs.

“Enogen technology is truly a unique advancement in our industry,” said Mick Miller, general manager of Denco II from Morris, Minnesota in an interview with the Minnesota StarTribune. Other plants are estimating a 2 – 6% gain in ethanol per bushel.

The Renewable Fuels Association reported these stats, among others about ethanol as of January 2014:

  • The total production capacity is 14.88 billion gallons annually
  • One 56lb bushel of corn can produce about 2.8 gallons of ethanol
  • Ethanol is blended in more than 96% of U.S. gasoline
  • 1 gallon of ethanol contains 76,300 BTUs

Ethanol is used in everything from alcoholic drinks, LCD screens and bulletproof vests to dental floss, baby wipes and air fresheners.