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New ethanol powered diesel engine expected to boost corn demand

A new modified diesel engine capable of running on any decarbonized liquid fuel is expected to significantly increase demand for corn ethanol.

BJ Johnson, co-founder and CEO of ClearFlame Engine Technologies based in Geneva, IL tells Brownfield they can take a traditional heavy duty diesel engine for a semi or tractor and get it to run on ethanol with no loss of performance.

“There are about 4 million semi trucks on the road in the United States and every 1% or about every 40,000 trucks or so would require another billion gallons of ethanol. Of course, ClearFlame won’t go from our first two trucks to 40,000 over night but I think we are only a few years away from being able to reach those higher levels.”      

He says funding from corn checkoff programs in Illinois, Iowa and Kansas will help them do an initial truck demonstration on their Cummins X15 engine later this year and then expand to another engine line for ag equipment.  

Johnson says while there is intimidation from electric vehicles and related legislation in this arena, it is important to remember that EV’s are not a silver bullet.

“While we are going to have electric cars, we aren’t going to have electric trucks near as quick. So, markets that rely on diesel fuel need a low-carbon liquid alternative. The more we can do to compliment electric vehicles, especially in the markets that are harder to electrify and are more reliant on liquids, that is ethanol’s market opportunity for the next decade.”

Brownfield interviewed Johnson as part of the IL Corn Connection series. This episode is available beginning October 19th.

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