“You can make ethanol out of any product basically that has, carbohydrate product that you can turn into the sugar into this ethyl alcohol.
Joe Outlaw is an agricultural economist and he says corn is the primary component used in making ethanol in the U.S.
“We also make it out of grain sorghum. You can make it out of sweet potatoes, basically anything that has starch, you can convert that starch into this alcohol.”
Bio-diesel is also plant based.
“You can take things like soybeans, crush the soybeans and get soybean oil. Same thing with cottonseed, you can use cottonseed oil. There’s a number of other seeds you can use.”
“In addition on bio-diesel you can use animal fat and lard.”
Ethanol was popular briefly in the 80s and then faded, but people interested in it kept it alive developing better and better technologies.
“The cost of the enzymes, the things that actually turns the sugar into ethanol, they’ve come down in price, so that the industry had a little stop and start. People have been working on this for years and now that the cost of production, the actual amount of money you can make off of corn based ethanol in this country is very positive.”
Since Texas is not in the Corn Belt, or the soybean belt, the question becomes whether or not in our location we can take advantage of alternative sources of feedstocks for a bio-diesel or ethanol plant.
“The answer 4 years ago was the economics weren’t there. We were hauling, Texas is a corn deficit state, we had to haul corn in to basically feed those plants. The economics really didn’t work. Today, we could locate an ethanol plant anywhere in the state of Texas and it would make money.”
And that could have a tremendous impact on Texas farmers. I’m Joe brown, looking at Brazos Valley agriculture, from the ground up.