Ethanol Basics


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The use of ethanol as an alternative fuel is becoming increasingly popular by ever conscious consumers wishing to do their little bit for the planet. It may even be a better alternative to bio fuel, it seems that it is a lot more pleasant to make at any rate.

What is Ethanol? Ethanol is a grain alcohol, or plant mass formula derived from the natural sugars found in bio mass, or vegetation such as corn, wheat, barley, potatoes and sugar cane. This is then processed to make a renewable form of fuel or fuel additive, which is both cost effective and good for the planet. Many cars are able to run on Ethanol and gasoline mixtures. Although at the moment, the mixtures are only a ratio of 10% Ethanol, to 90% fossil fuel.

Benefits of Ethanol

There are many benefits of using an alternative fuel such as Ethanol, for starters it is a renewable resource, fossil fuels used to make gasoline is not renewable, so one day they will run out, it is because of this that people, have become more aware of alternative fuels and additives. Another good reason for using an alternative fuel such as Ethanol is the reduction of pollution, we only have one planet and if we keep polluting it we may very well find ourselves with nowhere to live. Any steps that we can make toward reducing pollution is a positive. Another good reason to consider a fuel alternative such as Ethanol is that it is far more cheaper to use and make, the main cost involved in making Ethanol is in the processing method.

How is Ethanol Produced?

The process used consists of 8 stages, corn is the main product used in this method, Milling the corn, to make it into a fine powder, or meal Liquification, which is mixing the meal with water and Alpha-amylase, then heating it at temperatures of 120-150 deg Celcius, the heat reduces bacteria. Saccharification, is the process of cooling the mash, and adding glucoamylase, this converts the starch to dextrose, Fermentation, is where the yeast is added to ferment the sugars to convert it to Ethanol. This process consists of the mash going through several different tanks, and takes about 48 hours.

Please note that this procedure is risky and I do not recommend making biodiesel without further research of the process, these are just general guidelines of the making process, if you wish to actually make your own bio diesel please consult expert companies or professionals.

Distillation, the mash now contains about 10% alcohol and 90% non fermentable solids, the solids are now separated from the alcohol, to reach about a 96% strength of alcohol. Dehydration, is where the last of the water is removed to make the alcohol about 200 proof.

Denaturing, is used then to make the alcohol unfit for human consumption, this is done by adding a small amount of gasoline, like 2-5%. There are 2 co products derived from this process as well. The first is the non fermentable product, this is used as a livestock feed, the second is the carbon dioxide which is collected from the process and sold to other industries.

There are many reasons to use Ethanol as either an additive or an alternative fuel; one of the main reasons is the reduction of pollution. Regular fossil based fuels are not only damaging to the environment they are a non-renewable resources; once they are gone they can never be replaced, or regenerated.

Simon Oldmann is an avid writer and a green activist, he has been writing about Ethanol use since the growing popularity of Ethanol these last years, Simon writes for


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