Does Ethanol Fuel Have a Future?
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Does Ethanol Fuel Have a Future?

Information on ethanol use

Ethanol is a product of sugar fermentations and sometimes starch. It is an organic compound in the family of alcohols and has a high octane rating. Though it has numerous uses as an industrial raw material for quite a wide range of companies, it getting newer uses which include it being used as a fuel. This could be attributes to the fact that it produces high heat content and burns with a blue flame which is not very visible thus less smoke emitted. Nowadays ethanol is produced from agricultural remains using fermentation though the process is a little expensive as opposed to the convectional ways where starch is used. Ethanol fuel use is still not much exploited.

To be used in a petrol engine, ethanol fuel has to be blended with gasoline. The common ratio of ethanol ranges between 5% to about 11%. However for flexible fuel vehicles, the FFVs a higher ratio of ethanol can be tolerated. The two mixtures are normally used in the same fuel tank therefore there is no need for engine modifications. Although it is possible to have cars running on only ethanol but these will present other problems like cold starting. The cars running on 85% ethanol and the remainder gasoline, popularly known as the “E85” do exist in over 30 models of mainly SUVs though they are faced with the challenge of low energy content in ethanol. There is hope to develop engines that will be well adapted to the use of ethanol fuel in the future.

There are several advantages associated with ethanol fuel. First of all the fuel is completely renewable. This is likely to reduce the overdependence on fossil fuels which are getting depleted quickly. In addition to that, ethanol is concentrated with oxygen and this will ensure lesser pollution during its usage. This will also reduce the level of harmful emissions released to the atmosphere by the internal combustion engines which currently contribute to the larger percentage of harmful emissions. The list of benefits seems endless as the byproducts of ethanol making process could be used as animal feed as well as modified for human consumption if the raw material were food products.

Critics of the ethanol fuel usage claim that there is a more likelihood for most farmers to start producing food products for ethanol making. This is likely to increase world food shortage which is currently experienced. The allegation goes on to claim that compared to petrol, you will require a lot of ethanol fuel and this will mean dedication of more food material to get substantial ethanol. The world should first finish the food crisis before they could think on such technologies as their inception will mean more food crisis.

The world has put more emphasis on production of ethanol from more fast growing biomass like the woody grasses. This would not affect food production so much as the woody grasses will be grown severally in a year as they grow rapidly. With the many available “E85” dispensers in many parts of the world, the future of ethanol fuel is almost guaranteed. America for instance has well over 1400 stations.

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