The improving “carbon footprint” of ethanol production and the ability of biofuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions were key topics discussed at the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop in St. Louis, according to the National Corn Growers Association.

“The record attendance at this year's conference was proof that ethanol has definitely gone mainstream,” said Bruce Noel, chairman of NCGA's Ethanol Committee.

“And I was also impressed with the fact that this industry is serious about maximizing its efficiency, decreasing its energy consumption, and having the greatest impact possible on mitigating climate change.”

Noel, along with NCGA Chairman Gerald Tumbleson and Director of Ethanol and Business Development Geoff Cooper, represented corn growers at the workshop.

Tumbleson, who addressed the conference's opening general session, emphasized the environmental benefits that come from simply converting solar energy into liquid transportation fuels via photosynthesis and fermentation. He also spoke about the significant impact ethanol has had on rural economic development and the agricultural economy.

In keeping with the theme on environmental issues, technical sessions focused on carbon credit trading, emissions and environmental controls and combined heat and power technologies.

New developments in ethanol processing technologies also were highlighted at the event. The U.S. Department of Energy moderated an update on the projects that were awarded cellulosic ethanol biorefinery commercial demonstration grants, and several sessions focused on new feedstocks, fractionation, and technologies to improve processing efficiency.