We Know: All About Ethanol

What is Ethanol?

Ethanol (ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol, EtOH) is a clear, colorless liquid. It is made up of a group of chemical compounds whose molecules contain a hydroxyl group, (OH, bonded to a carbon atom).

How is Ethanol produced?

Ethanol is produced by fermenting and distilling starch crops that have been converted into simple sugars. It is made from corn, barley, and wheat. ethanol can also be produced from trees and grasses in the form of bioethanol. The ethanol production process starts by grinding up the feedstock so it is more easily and quickly processed in the following steps. Once ground up, the sugar is either dissolved out of the material or the starch or cellulose is converted into sugar. The sugar is then fed to microbes that use it for food, producing ethanol and carbon dioxide in the process. A final step purifies the ethanol to the desired concentration. Ethanol is also made from a wet-milling process. Many larger ethanol producers use this process, which also yields products such as high-fructose corn sweetener.

Can Ethanol replace gasoline?

Instead of replacing gasoline, ethanol is blended with gasoline (85% ethanol and 15% gasoline). Special vehicles are required to run on E85 and are called flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs). In some areas, ethanol is blended with gasoline to form an E10 blend (10% ethanol and 90% gasoline).

What vehicles use Ethanol for fuel?

Several manufacturers make vehicles that can run on ethanol. New vehicle models are designed each year. Many car owners are even aware that their cars are E85 compatible. Some of these vehicles are:

  • Chevrolet pickups and Suburban
  • Dodge and Chrysler Caravans and minivans
  • Dodge Stratus
  • Ford Explorers
  • Ranger pickups
  • Ford Taurus sedan and wagon
  • GMC pickups
  • Isuzu Hombre 2WD pickup
  • Mazda B3000 pickup

Is there a demand for Ethanol?

Many vehicles on the road today can run on blends of ethanol and gasoline, most on lower-level blends and many on higher-level blends such as E85. Because of the abundance of ethanol-compatible vehicles, the future is bright for ethanol as a fuel.

What are the benefits of Ethanol?

  • Ethanol increases octane and improve the emissions quality of gasoline.
  • Using E85 reduces petroleum consumption
  • E85 is good for the environment
  • Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) are available and affordable and compatible vehicles are becoming more common each year.-
  • FFVs have flexible fueling options

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