What is Ethanol?

What is it?

Plant materials known as biomass can be used to produce a renewable fuel called ethanol. Biomass that can be used to produce ethanol includes: corn, sugar cane, potatoes, algae, grass, and other materials containing cellulose. Regardless of what material is used to produce ethanol, it all results in the same chemical formula. Also known as ethyl alcohol, ethanol is the same alcohol you find in alcoholic beverages.

How is it made?

Starch-based crops, primarily corn, are used for ethanol production. Biochemical conversion, when sugars are extracted from a plant and then fermented, is one of the processes used to produce ethanol. Because there is a demand for human food and livestock feed, production of ethanol from starch-based feedstock cannot exceed 15 billion gallons.

What is it used for?

More than 95% of the United States’ gasoline supply is blended with ethanol. To reduce air pollution and oxygenate the fuel, ethanol is added to gasoline in low quantities, 10% being the most common blend. Fueling vehicles with ethanol is not a new concept. It was believed by early automakers like Henry Ford, that in the future ethanol would be the primary fuel source for the world. By the year 2030, it is estimated that 30% or more of the gasoline demand in the U.S. will be replaced by ethanol.