News

    Ethanol Production Poised to Surge in US

    President Bush has set ambitious goals to reduce the country's dependence on oil, and increase the use of alternative fuels like ethanol. VOA's Brian Wagner reports from Miami that experts are now at work to ensure there will be enough new supplies of ethanol to meet the demand.

    A recent deal between the United States and Brazil to share ethanol technology marked a key step to expand the American market for alternative fuels. Brazil has built a strong local market for ethanol based on local sugar production, and U.S. officials are hoping to learn some lessons from its success.

    Most U.S. ethanol is made from corn. And expanding ethanol production is crucial to President Bush's goal of reducing gasoline consumption in the country by 20 percent over the next 10 years.

    "The president's goal has begun to shake up the energy sector," says Brian Dean, head of the Interamerican Ethanol Commission. "That's not just ambitious, it's audacious. We're going to start seeing policy initiatives immediately, I think. And with those policies, consideration needs to be given to our ability to create enough products to meet these very ambitious objectives of 35 billion (gallons). The United States only produced a little over five billion gallons last year, it consumed close to six billion. We're talking about a five-fold increase."

    The United States is already looking for additional partners in Latin America to expand the ethanol sector. However, current U.S. policies restrict imports of ethanol and crops from the region, mainly because of pressure by U.S. farmers concerned about losing market share.

    Dean says the supply of ethanol from corn and other domestic farm crops will not be enough to meet the Mr. Bush's goals. "But clearly, corn alone, sugar cane alone, or any single feedstock that is agricultural is not going to be able to satisfy the market," he notes. "Clearly the future of ethanol lies in a holistic approach that contemplates agricultural sources, but also the cellulosic technologies. There needs to be an expansive view of ethanol."

    Cellulosic ethanol is derived from biomass or plant waste, such as bagasse from sugar cane. Experts are still working to improve the process. But within a few years, it could expand the market place for fuels, says George Philippidis, associate director of the Applied Resarch Center at Florida International University.

    "Where depending on what kind of raw material you have in each part of the country or the world, the [processing] plant will feed on that,"  he explains. " For instance, south Florida is very rich in bagasse [sugarcane waste]. Central Florida has a lot of citrus peel."

    Philippidis says the technology to make ethanol from such waste products is still a few years away. But he says it will be needed to reduce demand for corn, sugar, and other farm products. Already, the rising interest in ethanol has been blamed for a jump in prices for corn tortillas in Mexico.

    Philippidis says we can expect to see more market fluctuations.

    "The free market operates that way. We're going to see the ups and downs until we have a demand and supply that are in sync. But that doesn't scare me, it doesn't concern me. That's a natural cycle that the market is going to go through," he says.

    Experts say the move away from an oil-based energy market will help reduce pollution and increase energy security. But, as long as demand for ethanol remains high, consumers should expect not to see much savings at the gas pump.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora