CHICAGO -- Dr. Martha Schlicher's statement regarding the University of Minnesota Ethanol Study announced in Science Daily Feb. 3, 2009:

"The Minnesota study does not compare apples to apples, thereby providing its audience with a less than full understanding of current and future corn ethanol performance. To a cautious scientist, this over promises on the potential of cellulosics and under promises on what is yet possible with corn.

"Technology used to produce corn based ethanol today will not be the technology of tomorrow and, if given the opportunity, will be dramatically advanced from the modest advancements the Minnesota study cites.

"Specific areas in which the study falls short:

  • The study assumes no increase in current corn-based ethanol production yields despite all of the well documented enzyme and corn composition advancements to the contrary;
  • The study simultaneously claims a 10-percent increase in cellulosic ethanol yield over what today has been demonstrated only in the laboratory;
  • The study fails to mention that natural gas and electricity use could be eliminated from corn ethanol production today, greatly altering its emission profile;
  • Additional ethanol production needs will be paced with corn productivity increases so that no additional acres of corn will be required;
  • The study omits the important fact that unlike cellulosic ethanol, corn ethanol will produce from the same corn plant food grade corn oil and high protein animal food in addition to vehicle fuel and the raw material for cellulosic ethanol.

  • New technology currently available for introduction into ethanol production -- technology the study does not account for -- stands ready and waiting to transform the industry and its environmental footprint.

    "Cellulosic ethanol is an important part of our renewable future. Let's give that future its best shot and the development time it requires by optimizing the base of production that we have today in corn ethanol. A base we will find surprisingly energy efficient.

    "Given the considerable energy challenges before us, it's critical that every viable energy alternative be given a fair and impartial assessment."

    Dr. Martha Schlicher is vice president of Illinois River Energy and former head of the National Corn To Ethanol Research Center.

    SOURCE: Dr. Martha Schlicher via PR Newswire.