Made in Michigan: Buying local at the fuel pump

9:37 PM, Jul 26, 2013   |    comments
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  • Made in Michigan Fuel
  • Mitch Miller, CEO of Carbon Green Bioenergy

LAKE ODESSA, Mich. (WZZM) -- Gasoline in Michigan contains at least 10% ethanol and in many cases, that ethanol is produced by a West Michigan company. We talked to a local bio fuel company about how their made in Michigan product is being put into our gas tanks.

Mitch Miller is the CEO of Carbon Green Bio Energy. They turn locally produced corn into fuel.

"Whole corn kernels are purchased from 320 local farmers and the starch is turned into 200 proof ethanol," says Miller.

The process of making ethanol is not unlike making beer; even standing on the sprawling company grounds you get a smell that is similar to a microbrewery.

As corn trucks roll in they are tested and weighed. Some corn actually produces more ethanol so they are constantly testing to find which corn produces the best yields. The corn is then ground down and fermented and yeast is added to the process with water. The resulting mash is then distilled, creating two products: 200 proof ethanol and livestock feed.

"The leftover fat, fiber, and protein from the ethanol process is then sold to local livestock producers," says Miller.

70% of the corn used in the process gets turned into fuel, the rest becomes the livestock feed. All of the corn gets used with no waste product.

The ethanol is then sold to gas companies who mix a 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline mix for use at gas pumps. This helps lower the cost of fuel over all. Carbon Green also sells its own mix of 85% ethanol fuel called e85 directly to Michigan gas stations. This E85 is approaching a dollar less at most gas stations right now and can be used in any flex fuel vehicle.

"Right now we are selling about 323,000 gallons a month of e85 or 16,000 auto fills a month," says Miller.

And when you look at the math for the amount of energy that goes into making ethanol, you get more than double that amount in energy back, but that is not all.

"When you produce a product in the United States, sell it in the United States, that dollar stays close to us-- reticulates in our economy and stays close to home," says Miller.

So the next time you fill up, realize you may be putting in a Made in Michigan fuel.

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