Corn School: Ethanol powers the Honda Indy

IndyCar drivers such as Will Power and the cars they drive are fuelled by E85 ethanol blend gasoline. Photo: Honda Indy.

Why is ethanol important to agriculture, the environment, and consumers?

On this episode of the Corn School, RealAgriculture’s Bernard Tobin travels to the Honda Indy in Toronto for a firsthand look at how Ontario grain farmers are reaching out to consumers to increase understanding of biofuels and the role farmers play in powering cars in the province.

“It really is a great opportunity to connect with a consumer base that we don’t always get to talk to,” says Nicole Mackellar, Grain Farmers of Ontario market development manager. She and her team spent three days at the annal Indy car racing festival talking with race fans at GFO’s Growing Connections trailer about everything from ethanol and biodiesel to GMOs, gluten and whether farmers can meet the demand for corn as both food and fuel.

In this report, Mackellar also discusses the benefits that ethanol production in the province brings to Ontario farmers and ongoing efforts to ensure that the newly-elected Progressive Conservative government pushes ahead with the previous government’s commitment that gas sold in the province should require 10 percent ethanol by 2020. Currently, the ethanol requirement is set at five percent.

Story continues after the video.

Tobin also talks engines with GFO biofuels expert Justin Shepherd. All Indy cars are powered by 85 percent ethanol-blended fuel (E85). Shepherd says North American cars could easily run on fuel with 15 percent ethanol, but the power to increase the ethanol blend percentage rests with politicians, government and the competing oil and biofuels industry.

E15 ethanol blend is currently used in the U.S. and Shepherd says increasing the blend percentage in Canada would be a boon for corn growers. Currently about 34 per cent of Ontario corn is used to produce ethanol and increasing the blend percentage would spur ethanol producers to invest in production expansion and even new facilities  – all good news for farmers to share with Ontario consumers and racing fans.

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