Ethanol Production Jobs
In the United States, almost all ethanol fuel is made using corn. It’s the same type of substance found in alcoholic beverages, and also with corn, it can also be made from crops such as sugar cane, sorghum, barley, potatoes, wheat, cotton, sunflowers, and hemp.
Currently, the government heavily funds research involving the production of ethanol, and farmers who grow corn can receiving subsidies to help cover costs.
Corn (or other crops) grown for ethanol is grown just as it would be for livestock feed or food products. The real differences come after the grain is collected. If you choose to work ethanol production on a large scale, you’ll typically work in a plant that adds yeast to the corn to start fermentation. This is kind of like the process used to create beer and other types of alcohol, but the regulations are different since the end product isn’t something that will be used for human or animal consumption.
In order to make fuel out of the product of this fermentation process, the fermented corn mixture then needs to be distilled, which removes most of the water. Then, the remaining ethanol, which is typically about 95% pure, is dehydrated. Most ethanol plants use molecular sieves for the dehydration process, after which the product can be sold for fuel.
Workers in ethanol plants transport the fermented corn to distillers and then monitor the dehydration process and package the final ethanol product safely.
While ethanol product jobs are readily available, so are jobs in research for this type of biofuel. You typically don’t need a degree to work in an ethanol production plant, but for higher salaries, consider a degree in chemistry, biology, natural energy, or a related field. You can also work for car companies, which are increasingly advancing their research departments to deal with the growing trend of renewable energy. The government also hires workers in research and development of ethanol products, so this is a part of the agricultural industry that has job openings from small corn farms in Iowa to law-making jobs in Washington, D.C.