What is bioethanol?
Posted on 3:20pm Friday 30th Apr 2010
The principle fuel used as a petrol substitute for road transport vehicles is bioethanol. Bioethanol fuel is mainly produced by the sugar fermentation process, although it can also be manufactured by the chemical process of reacting ethylene with steam.
The main sources of sugar required to produce ethanol come from fuel or energy crops. These crops are grown specifically for energy use and include corn, maize and wheat crops, waste straw, willow and popular trees, sawdust, reed canary grass, cord grasses, jerusalem artichoke, myscanthus and sorghum plants. There is also ongoing research and development into the use of municipal solid wastes to produce ethanol fuel.
Ethanol or ethyl alcohol (C2H5OH) is a clear colourless liquid, it is biodegradable, low in toxicity and causes little environmental pollution if spilt. Ethanol burns to produce carbon dioxide and water.
Bioethanol has a number of advantages over conventional fuels. It comes from a renewable resource i.e. crops and not from a finite resource and the crops it derives from can grow well in the UK (like cereals, sugar beet and maize). Another benefit over fossil fuels is the greenhouse gas emissions.
By encouraging bioethanol’s use, the rural economy would also receive a boost from growing the necessary crops. Bioethanol is also biodegradable and far less toxic that fossil fuels.