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EthanolBiofuel production has increased dramatically since 2000 and is part of the world's energy mix as the world moves to renewable sources of energy.  Renewable energy represents 12% of the global energy consumption as of 2015.  In North America, gasoline is sold with at least 10% ethanol, and ethanol production uses 40% of the corn grown each year.  Biodiesel production has also increased dramatically going from minimal production in 2000 to over 2 billion gallons in 2015. 

Biofuels are energy sources that are produced from biomass.  Ethanol or methanol is produced from fermentation of carbohydrate sources, or biodiesel is produced from the refining and processing of oils from algae, oils or other feedstock. 

Ethanol production is directly related to the amount of starch or other carbohydrates in the corn, other grains or grasses.  Fermentation produces ethanol from the starch, and the residual by-products are processed and sold as feed ingredients such as Digestible Distiller's Grain with Solubles (DDGS).  The feed by-products often have significant value and are sold according to a specified nutritional content.  Frequent at-line analytical testing of the incoming raw grains as well as in-process and final product testing help ensure maximum ethanol production and utilization of the by-products.  Both the corn mash and the fermentation broth can be analyzed for parameters such as brix, sugars, glycerol, acetic acid, lactic acid, and ethanol. Analyzing these properties quickly can help control the process, improve yields, and help to eliminate mistakes.Monitoring the quality of the by-products will reduce claims and allow maximum utilization of the feed ingredients.

Biodiesel production involves the extraction of oils from algae or other oil-rich feedstock followed by refining and processing to produce biodiesel.  Accurate analysis of the feedstock can help optimize the extraction process, a critical step to make the process efficient and profitable. 

NIR analysis can deliver accurate results of incoming feedstock, in-process samples and by-products in under 30 seconds, providing valuable input to control the process and extract maximum profit from the biofuel production.  With NIR, every step in the process can be monitored and controlled, increasing efficiency and providing a rapid payback to the investment. 

Learn more about analytical options for biofuel producers!