refining life

From wheat til biofuel

In recent years there has been an intense debate over the use of corn products for the production of biofuels, as some fear that this will leave people starving and lead to a rise in food prices.

The production of biofuels from corn products have been accused of leading to rising food prices. However, the rise in food prices is due to a lot of different parameters, which the use of corn for the bioethanol production has no influence on. This was determined when the World Bank in July 2010 released a report, repudiating that the use of corn for the production of biofuels had caused the rising food prices seen in 2006-2008.

Likewise, in May 2013, The World Bank published the report Long-Tern Drivers of Food Prices, which concludes that rising oil prices, and not biofuels, is the main reason behind the increase in global food prices. 

Release of agricultural land for production of food

The rising population growth means that the need for food is rising as well. This does not mean that the use of corn for production of biofuel leaves people starving. In Denmark we have surplus stocks of corn. On a yearly basis, Denmark produces about 5 mill. tons of feed wheat, of which 1.5-2 mill. tons are exported and used for industrial purposes (Danmarks Statistik).

Hveiti refines 530,000 tons of feed wheat annually, which is a relatively small amount compared to Denmark’s annual production.

By using corn produced within the borders of the EU, instead of importing bioethanol produced in South America, you free up agricultural land in these areas.

This means that you in these areas, instead of producing sugarcane for the bioethanol production, can grow food.

For every 0.69 ha. of agricultural land used in Denmark for the production of feed wheat for a biorefining process, where you extract bioethanol, feed and food, you free up 0.71 ha. of agricultural land globally.

This is due to the introduction of a high-value protein, which is a natural by-product in a biorefining process (Claus Felby). In addition. 1 kg. protein produced on corn can, because of its high nutritional value, replace 0.68 kg. corn and 0.60 kg. soybean protein, which means that you do not need the same amounts of feed, to achieve the same outcome (IEA Bioenergy).

Claus Felby's report "Energy, feed and land-use balances of refining winter wheat to ethanol."

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