U.S. Corn Usage for Ethanol, Dry Mill Ethanol Co-Products Production, and Ethanol Yields Update
By Sampath Jayasinghe(1) and David Miller(2)
(1)Decision Innovation Solutions, 11107 Aurora Avenue, Urbandale, IA 50322
(2)Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, 5400 University Avenue, West Des Moines, IA 50266
In this month’s report, we provide an annual summary update on the amount of corn consumed in dry and wet mill ethanol production, as well as monthly production of co-products. A previous update covered the U.S. corn crush for ethanol from October 2014 to October 2016 (January 2017 Report).
This analysis work is based on data within the Grain Crushing and Co-Products Production report published by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA-NASS). This analysis is based on the NASS data published from February 19, 2015, to February 1, 2018.
The total amount of corn consumed for alcohol and other uses from October 2014 to December 2017 is shown in Figure 1. The total amount of corn crushed in 2017 was 6.141 billion bushels, compared to 5.843 billion bushels in 2016, an increase of five percent.
Corn crush usage in 2017 was allocated 91 percent for alcohols and 9 percent for other purposes. These percentages were nearly identical for 2016. Corn usage for other purposes indicates the total wet mill products other than fuel.
Out of total corn consumed for alcohols during 2017, 98 percent was for fuel alcohols, 1 percent for industrial alcohols, and 1 percent for beverage alcohols.
Figure 2 breaks down the monthly corn usage for dry and wet mill fuel alcohols production. Corn usage in 2017 for dry mill ethanol production averaged 90 percent, with the remaining 10 percent used in wet mill ethanol production. While there is some month-to-month fluctuation, these percentages are nearly identical for 2016.
The total amount of corn crushed only for fuel alcohols in 2017 was 5.5 billion bushels, compared to 5.289 billion bushels in 2016, an increase of four percent. Total dry mill corn crush in 2017 was 4.839 billion bushels, compared to 4.734 billion bushels in 2016. Total wet mill corn crush in 2017 was 0.651 billion bushels, compared to 0.554 billion bushels in 2016.
Dry Mill Ethanol Plants Co-products
Total production of co-products from dry mill ethanol plants excluding condensed distillers solubles syrup in shown in Figure 3. Distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and distillers wet grains (DWG) with moisture content of 65 percent or more are the two major dry mill co-products.
The total production of DDGS in 2017 was 23.188 million tons, compared to 23.179 million tons in 2016. The total production of DWG with moisture content of 65 percent or more during 2017 was 16.062 million tons, compared to 15.254 million tons in 2016, an increase of 5 percent.
Figure 4 shows the monthly production of distillers dried grains (DDG) and modified DWG (moisture content 40% to 60%) from October 2014 to December 2017. The total production of DDG in 2017 was 5.294 million tons, compared to 4.861 million tons in 2016, an increase of 9 percent. Similarly, the total production of modified DWG in 2017 was 5.336 million tons, compared to 4.817million tons in 2016, showing a significant increase of 11 percent.
Figure 5 shows the monthly production of corn distillers oil (CDO) from October 2014 to December 2017. The total CDO production in 2017 was 1.836 million tons, compared to 1.602 million tons in 2016, a significant increase of 15 percent. The major users of CDOs are biodiesel and animal feed industries. Now, moer than 95 percent of ethanol plants have the technological capacity to extract oil, and some of the best ethanol plants are extracting 1 pound of CDO per bushel of corn. Therefore, it’s not surprising CDO production has been soaring.
Wet Mill Ethanol Plants Co-products
Total production of co-products from wet mill ethanol plants from October 2014 to December 2017, excluding crude corn oil, is shown in Figure 6. Corn gluten feed and wet corn gluten feed with moisture content of 40% to 60% are the two major wet mill co-products. Corn gluten meal and corn germ meal are two minor co-products, with the total monthly production staying below 100,000 tons.
The total production of corn gluten feed in 2017 was 4.002 million tons, compared to 3.952 million tons in 2016, a very slight 1 percent increase. The total production of corn gluten feed with moisture content of 40% to 60% in 2017 was 3.604 million tons, compared to 3.670 million tons, a slight decrease of 2 percent.
Sorghum Usage for Fuel Ethanol
Figure 7 shows the U.S. sorghum crush for fuel ethanol from January 2016 to December 2017. We only show the sorghum crushing data from 2016 onwards as some numbers are missing in USDA-NASS data for the previous years in the study. Total amount of sorghum crushed for fuel ethanol was 100.445 million bushels in 2017, compared to 130.934 million in 2016, a decrease of 23 percent.
National Average Ethanol Yield (January 2016-November 2017)
A question that is often asked is: “How many gallons of fuel ethanol can be obtained from one bushel of corn and sorghum grind?” The answer to that question varies from plant to plant and is not directly available from the publicly available data. However, in the following we provide one approach for deriving an approximation. A more ambitious approach is beyond the scope of this article. A more ambitious approach is beyond the scope of this article.
We take the monthly corn and sorghum consumption data on fuel ethanol production from the USDA-NASS and use monthly fuel ethanol production data from the U.S. Bioenergy Statistics published by the USDA’s Economic Research Service (USDA-ERS) to calculate an implied ethanol yield for corn and sorghum. Figure 8 illustrates the U.S. monthly average fuel ethanol yield from corn. We concentrate on the period beginning January 2016 onwards, as we don’t have consistent sorghum usage data for the previous months in 2015.
As seen in Figure 8, ethanol yield set a record high of 2.91 gallons per bushel of corn/sorghum crush in June 2017, and slipped back to 2.79 gallons per bushel by August 2017. The average ethanol yield for the first 11 months in 2017 stands at 2.83 gallons per bushel, as similar to the same period in 2016.
We find that the total amount of corn crushed for alcohols and other uses in 2017 increased by 5 percent from 2016. Similarly, the total amount of corn crushed only for fuel alcohols in 2017 increased by 4 percent from 2016. Out of total corn crushed for fuel ethanol, dry mill plants consumed an average 90 percent, with the remaining 10 percent used in wet mill plants. Total dry mill corn crush in 2017 was approximately 4 percent higher than 2016 numbers. Total wet mill corn crush in 2017 increased slightly from 2016.
The total production of DDGS in 2017 has not changed much compared to 2016 production. The total production of DWG with moisture content of 65 percent or more in 2017 increased by 5 percent from 2016. Total production of CDO in 2017 soared by 15 percent from 2016 production. The average ethanol yield for the first 11 months in 2017 was 2.83 gallons per bushel.
USDA-ERS (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service), 2018. U.S. Bioenergy Statistics. Downloaded February 6, 2018.
USDA-NASS (USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service), 2018. Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production. Multiple reports. Downloaded February 5, 2018.