Farmers Have Corn Dialed In to Capture Carbon

Gevo uses inedible field corn as feedstock to make isobutanol and there are numerous reasons why it works:

  • There’s plenty of corn around. Gevo’s Luverne, Minnesota, facility is situated amid thousands of acres of cornfields, since it’s a converted ethanol plant. That means reduced transportation cost (and emissions) to get the corn to the plant.
  • Corn growing is a science, and, while the weather and other conditions affect yield, it produces a huge biomass growth over the course of the three- to four-month growing season. That’s carbon getting captured from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.
  • When the corn gets to the plant, it is separated into its components, and the starch goes to the fermentation process to make biofuel, while the protein becomes animal feed.
  • Zone-tilling means the farmers leave the roots of last years crop and plow a very narrow row between. As the root ball of each stalk decays in the ground, it’s carbon becomes part of the soil.
  • High-protein animal feed helps livestock be healthier and also produce nutrient-rich manure that is then spread over the fields, preventing the farmer from needing to buy synthetic fertilizer and pay a crew to spread it.