Transportation Impacts of Increased Ethanol Production: A Kansas Case Study


  • Michael W. Babcock Kansas State University



The rapid expansion of the biofuel industry has driven the Kansas agricultural market into a new era. Nationally, fuel alcohol production has increased from 1,630 million gallons in 2000 to 9,239 million gallons in 2008, a 467% increase. This national trend has occurred in Kansas as well. As of December 2009 there are 10 operational ethanol plants in Kansas with a combined annual production capacity of 438 million gallons.The growth of ethanol production in Kansas has affected the Kansas corn and sorghum markets in unknown ways. Historically, the principal market destination of Kansas corn was Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas livestock feedlots with motor carriers accounting for all these shipments. The purpose of this research is to measure the transportation impact of Kansas ethanol production on the transportation of Kansas corn and sorghum. The specific objectives are: Objective A – Investigate the transportation impact of Kansas ethanol production on Kansas transportation from the point of view of the Kansas ethanol production industry, the grain elevator industry, and the Kansas railroad industry. Objective B – Investigate the impact of incremental truck traffic on road conditions in the vicinity of ethanol plants.Anticipated results include the inbound and outbound shipments to and from Kansas ethanol plants by mode and origin/destination. This information is likely to indicate that Kansas ethanol production has altered the traditional corn and sorghum logistics system.