The Fermentation of sugar crops (sugarcane, wheat, sorghum, maize, etc), starch, cornstalks, vegetable leftover and fruits after distillation is known as ethanol. US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Laboratory defines ethanol as “clear, colorless liquid with a characteristic, agreeable order.” Some scientist also adds ‘taste’ to this definition. Although toxic, ethanol is a drinkable alcohol contrary to methanol which is poisonous due to wood and methyl alcohol. Ethanol is also used in the making beer. It has very good performance as a motor fuel with less emission of pollutants.
It is a substitute to gasoline. With its high octane level it has replaced lead as an octane enhancer in gasoline. Engines get ‘knock’ while using those fuels that burn too quickly. The chances of engine knocking decrease with the increased number of octane which slows down the fuel burning. Without any harmful additives, the octane number of the mixture of ethanol and gasoline goes up by three points..
Corn or sugarcane can be used to make ethanol. Corn is used as biomaterial in United States to make the fuel where in comparatively warm places sugarcane is utilized for this purpose. Moreover, corn can be easily grown in United States where the production of sugarcane is troublesome. Ethanol can also be distilled from petroleum oil. The mixture of 85 per cent gasoline and 15 per cent ethanol is widely available and is used directly in gasoline engine. The burning of this mixture is cleaner thus causing least pollution. Ethanol on producing from the renewable bio source can also decrease the use of fossil fuels.
It is argued that the energy required to convert corn into ethanol fuel is nearly equal to the amount of energy gained from the fuel. The production of ethanol from corn is new and expected to be developed in near future. The fuel manufactured from the sugarcane is more favorable in terms of energy as the leftover can also used as an independent bio fuel to produce energy. The sugarcane manufacturing process is widely used in Brazil and Caribbean islands as the ethanol fuel’s contribution in meeting the power requirements of these sites is very significant. Brazil is more apt than any other state in switching to the ethanol fuel. It has already 20 per cent of vehicles that are run by ethanol where the mixture of ethanol and gasoline is used in about 50 per cent of motors.
The well known model T Ford was designed by Henry Ford to run alcohol who christened it the fuel of future. His forecast was not agreeable to the oil manufacturers who thought otherwise but the oil crisis of 1970s proved Ford right.
Long ago methyl tertbutyl ether (MTBE) was used as an oxygenate additive to gasoline but now ethanol is used for this purpose. MTBE is very harmful for the planet and was required to be replaced where ethanol can serve the purpose without damaging the environment. Oxygenating gasoline is frequently used in winter rather than in summer. It improves the octane quality, boost up ignition and decrease the emission of carbon mono-oxide.
Note: Ethanol Production Demonstation
Ethanol is a better fuel than petrol. Here are some of its advantages.
- A renewable source of energy extracted from plants.
- The production or the combustion of ethanol does not emit green house gases or poisonous pollutants. Thus it is not like the fossil fuels.
- Gives high level of octane at less cost and serves as a best substitute to hazardous additives like MTBE.
- All petrol engines can utilize the mixtures of ethanol and needs no alterations. These blends also decrease the emission of hydrocarbons that deplete the ozone layer.
- The fuel is eco-friendly and saves the environment from the hazards of other fossil fuels.
- According to USA EPA, more than any other oxygenate the oxygen content of ethanol decreases the level of carbon monoxide by 25 to 30 per cent.
- The emission of Particulate Matter and sulfur dioxide is also reduced by ethanol.
- The discharge of benzene and butadiene that cause cancer is also decreased by 50 per cent.
- Unlike biodiesel, there is no need to have a corporation. Ethanol can be made even in your backyard. Those who want to save the environment are busy in producing ethanol in their backyards; guidelines of the procedure are easily available.
There are shortcomings of the ethanol fuel.
- The energy density of ethanol isles than that of gasoline. As a result the life of ethanol fuel tank will be less than the tank of gasoline fuel.
- It is very difficult to use ethanol fuel in cold weather.
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