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  Ethanol Fuel  

Comparison with the United States

 

Brazil's sugar cane-based industry is more efficient than the U.S. corn-based industry. Sugar cane ethanol has an energy balance seven times greater than ethanol produced from corn. Brazilian distillers are able to produce ethanol for 22 cents per liter, compared with the 30 cents per liter for corn-based ethanol. U.S. corn-derived ethanol costs 30% more because the corn starch must first be converted to sugar before being distilled into alcohol. Despite this cost differential in production, the U.S. did not import more Brazilian ethanol because of U.S. trade barriers corresponding to a tariff of 54-cent per gallon, first imposed in 1980, but kept to offset the 45-cent per gallon blender's federal tax credit that is applied to ethanol no matter its country of origin. In 2011 the U.S. Congress decided not to extend the tariff and the tax credit, and as a result both ended on December 31, 2011. During these three decades the ethanol industry was awarded an estimated US$45 billion in subsidies and US$6 billion just in 2011.


Sugarcane cultivation requires a tropical or subtropical climate, with a minimum of 600 mm (24 in) of annual rainfall. Sugarcane is one of the most efficient photosynthesizes in the plant kingdom, able to convert up to 2% of incident solar energy into biomass. Sugarcane production in the United States occurs in Florida, Louisiana, Hawaii, and Texas. The first three plants to produce sugarcane-based ethanol are expected to go online in Louisiana by mid 2009. Sugar mill plants in Lacassine, St. James and Bunkie were converted to sugar cane-based ethanol production using Colombian technology in order to make possible a profitable ethanol production. These three plants will produce 100 million gallons (378.5 million liters) of ethanol within five years. By 2009 two other sugarcane ethanol production projects are being developed in Kauai, Hawaii and Imperial Valley, California.

 

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History

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Production

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Production process

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Agricultural Technology

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  Milling & Refining
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Overall Energy Use

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  Prices and effect on oil consumption
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Comparison with the United States

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Environmental & Social Impacts

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  Concerns