July 13, 2005

Researchers working on barley ethanol

Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania – Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Eastern Regional Research Center (ERRC) are working to develop barley that could be used in ethanol production.

Most ethanol is corn-based, but barley grows well in areas where corn does not. Barley’s abrasive hull is hard on milling equipment, it is more expensive to process and it has lower starch content than corn, which results in less ethanol yield. Researchers are attempting to produce barley that has higher starch and no hulls, and to formulate new milling and processing procedures.

Most barley not selected for brewing is used in animal feed and sells for less than US$2 per bushel; ethanol production could mean more money for barley farmers as well.

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