But the rate of ethanol production may climb even more dramatically in the future. Recently, some manufacturers have honed their gasification production abilities and can now efficiently produce ethanol from a variety of materials in addition to corn, such as garbage and even low-level radioactive waste.
There are three basic types of gasification technology - steam, plasma and molten metal - all of which are used to convert various solid and liquid waste feedstocks into syngas. A Fischer Tropsch system, a type of chemical process, is then used to convert the syngas into ethanol, synthetic diesel fuel or other marketable products.
Although gasification is not a new concept, companies such as XcelPlus, a Virginia-based manufacturer of ethanol fuel and other automotive products, have modernized the manufacturing process, making it possible to convert material into ethanol at a fraction of the cost of traditional ethanol manufacturing.
According to Bill Smith, president of XcelPlus, his company's facilities will have the ability to produce in minutes the amount of ethanol fuel that previously took hours to manufacture. This level of efficiency, combined with the abundance of solid waste ripe for conversion into fuel, could have a significant impact on the world's future fuel market.
With a growing number of new vehicles that can operate on either gasoline or ethanol-based fuels, so-called "flexible fuel" cars, a world using less petroleum may be closer than you think.
For more information, visit www.xcelplus.com.