Ethanol production using corn grain has exploded in the Upper Midwest. For example, Minnesota has 16 ethanol plants. According to news reports, Tampa is reviewing a request from Port Sutton EnviroFuels LCC for up to 500,000 gallons of freshwater per day to run Florida’s first Ethanol production plant. The facility today would be the city’s fifth-largest water customer, bigger than Tampa General Hospital, the University of South Florida or Busch Gardens. It is planned for the plant to transition to reclaimed water as the primary water source in the future.
Consumptive water use by ethanol plants largely comes from evaporation during cooling and wastewater discharge. Ethanol plants are generally designed to recycle water within the plant. As a rule of thumb, water utilization is 10 gallons per minute for each 1 million gallons of yearly ethanol production.
I never knew the process used so much of water. I guess it makes sense, since it very similar to brewing beer.
06.12.07 Update: Is Water Ethanol’s Achilles’ heel?