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Bioenergy > Feedstocks > Grains

Note: See also the BioenergyWiki page on the Food-versus-fuel debate.

Various grains for sale in a market in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

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Grains are cereal food crops. Various kinds of grain can be used to produce bioethanol.

Grains that are being used as ethanol feedstocks include corn, milo, sorghum, and wheat.

Demand for grains for use in producing ethanol can compete with other uses of grains, including as food for human or animal consumption, as well as direct or indirect changes in land use.


  • Failure to act on crop shortages fuelling political instability, experts warn, 7 February 2011 by The Guardian: "World leaders are ignoring potentially disastrous shortages of key crops, and their failures are fuelling political instability in key regions, food experts have warned."
    • "Food prices have hit record levels in recent weeks, according to the United Nations, and soaring prices for staples such as grains over the past few months are thought to have been one of the factors contributing to an explosive mix of popular unrest in Egypt and Tunisia."
    • "The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation said this week that world food prices hit a record high in January, for the seventh consecutive month. Its food price index was up 3.4% from December to the highest level since the organisation started measuring food prices in 1990."[1]
  • U.S. Feeds One Quarter of its Grain to Cars While Hunger is on the Rise, 21 January 2010 press release by Earth Policy Institute: "The 107 million tons of grain that went to U.S. ethanol distilleries in 2009 was enough to feed 330 million people for one year at average world consumption levels. More than a quarter of the total U.S. grain crop was turned into ethanol to fuel cars last year."
    • "In a globalized food economy, increased demand for food to fuel American vehicles puts additional pressure on world food supplies."
    • EPI calculates that "even if the entire U.S. grain crop were converted to ethanol..., it would satisfy at most 18 percent of U.S. automotive fuel needs."
    • "The amount of grain needed to fill the tank of an SUV with ethanol just once can feed one person for an entire year....Continuing to divert more food to fuel, as is now mandated by the U.S. federal government in its Renewable Fuel Standard, will likely only reinforce the disturbing rise in hunger."[3]

Controversies concerning bioenergy edit
Food security | Food-versus-fuel debate (Biofuel impacts on food prices)

Food crops used for biofuels: corn

Bioenergy feedstocks edit

Biodiesel feedstocks:
Currently in use: Animal fat | Castor beans | Coconut oil | Jatropha | Jojoba | Karanj | Palm oil | Rapeseed | Soybeans | Sunflower seed | Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO)
Currently in research and development: Algae | Halophytes (Salt-tolerant plants)

Ethanol feedstocks:
First-generation: Cassava | Corn | Milo | Nypa palm | Sorghum | Sugar beets | Sugar cane | Sugar palm |Sweet potato | Waste citrus peels | Wheat | Whey
Second-generation: For cellulosic technology - Grasses: Miscanthus, Prairie grasses, Switchgrass | Trees: Hybrid poplar, Mesquite, Willow

Charcoal feedstocks: Bamboo | Wood
Waste-to-energy (MSW)


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