Investing in Ethanol’s Future with Carbon Capture


The following is an article originally published in the Des Moines Register print and online editions on March 27, 2022.

This emphasis on carbon emissions will be extremely beneficial not only to farmers, but also to the general public


By Jim Ramm, P.E., EcoEngineers


Iowa agriculture, particularly the corn industry, has been the bedrock of the state economy for more than 150 years. Our farmers grow more corn each year than any other U.S. state and all but a few countries.  In today’s world of registered climate change impacts, it is not only what you do but how you do it that matters to investors, consumers, and markets.  The Iowa economy is bolstered by its abundant agriculture sector, and its future success is dependent on growth in the direction of lowering carbon and improving sustainability.

Iowa has more ethanol facilities than any other U.S. state.  Each bushel of corn is converted to roughly one-third fuel, one-third feed, and one-third carbon dioxide.  Carbon markets are becoming more important each year as the world looks to limit carbon emissions.  This emphasis on carbon emissions will be extremely beneficial to Iowa farmers, and by extension, all Iowans as we have the potential to produce the lowest carbon crops in the world.


New carbon capture and storage technologies have made it possible for the ethanol industry to produce a net-zero-carbon fuel by 2030. The economic benefits are tremendous, as this will allow ethanol facilities to compete in new markets across the country. Because of the close ties between ethanol and Iowa corn growers, advancements in ethanol will produce tangible benefits to Iowa agriculture.  Iowa’s corn crop will pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It will be collected, compressed to liquid form, and injected in miles-deep underground reservoirs for permanent storage.  Our ethanol facilities will be known for production of net-zero ethanol, collection and storage of atmospheric carbon, and perfect examples for the benefits of sustainable agriculture.

There are several projects planning carbon storage pipelines through Iowa. The projects will capture carbon dioxide emissions from ethanol plants, compress them, then channel them to North Dakota and Illinois, where the carbon dioxide will be permanently and safely stored in deep geological formations underground.

This can be done safely. Carbon dioxide is present in every breath we take and in our carbonated drinks. The carbon dioxide being injected is of pure, biogenic, and food-grade quality. Carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere and stored underground will reduce greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere and slow down climate change.

Iowa ethanol producers and farmers will benefit from the carbon capture and storage projects. Roughly half of all U.S. ethanol plants have committed to participate in carbon capture projects.  As a Professional Engineer, I am fully invested in the development of the low-carbon economy. Investing in carbon capture projects makes sense, will help Iowa, and is worthy of the support of Iowans who want to build a sustainable future.


Jim Ramm headshot

Jim Ramm, P.E.

Jim Ramm, P.E., is Vice President of Sales and cofounder of EcoEngineers, a consulting and auditing firm that specializes in low-carbon fuels and decarbonization strategies. He has over 30 years of experience in civil/environmental engineering including work in the areas of ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, and solid waste and renewable fuel production processes. For more information about low-carbon fuels, decarbonization strategies, or EcoEngineers, contact Jim at