About Chemistry, Environment, Waste Management and Green Life Inspirations

14 August 2010

Ethanol for Alternative Fuel

Ethanol can generate energy when used in internal combustion engines similar to gasoline. Ethanol fuel is the same type of alcohol that people drink. A renewable biofuel alternative for internal combustion engines it is one of the most adopted biofuels in existance. The United States and Brazil produced 89% of the world’s ethanol in recent years. Ethanol can be produced large scale using fermented sugar or hydrating ethlene. It can even be made from petroleum. It is extremely simply to manufacture ethanol from common crops. There is an additional source of ethanol being developed that will produce it from algae.
The most common production fuel is crops that could otherwise be used as food such as sugar cane and corn. This has led to concerns over using ethanol as a fuel because of the impact it has the global markets for certain crops. Cellulosic ethanol is a new experimental form of ethanol that aims to alleviate this concern.
Cellulosic ethanol can be made using any plant material. This means an expansion in the types of crops and waste of agriculture that can be used to produce ethanol. When this new form of ethanol production is perfeted ethanol could become very widely adopted as the primary concerns over the fuel source will be eliminated.
As additional bonus to using any biofuel like ethanol is that the carbon emissions during combustion are negated or nearly canceled out by the carbon uptake during the crop growth. Future biofuels such as fourth generation biofuels might even be carbon negative taking in more carbon during production than is expended with use.
There is no doubt that ethanol is a viable alternative and renewable energy fuel. However, there are some things to keep in mind. Let’s recap the advantages and disadvantages of ethanol fuel.
Pros of Ethanol Fuel
* Using crops as an energy source makes ethanol a renewable energy.
* Vehicles have been sucessfully converted to ethanol.
* Cellulosic ethanol will solve the food market problems ethanol has.
Cons of Ethanol Fuel
* Not very resistant to water contamination and can be corrosive.
* Cellulosic ethanol hasn’t been completed yet so the food crop problems still exist.

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