Ethanol

Information On Ethanol Fuel

According to the American Coalition for Ethanol, ethanol is a high octane, clean burning fuel produced from corn is used as an additive to gas as a way to reduce toxic vehicle emissions as well as in manufacturing. Essentially pure grain alcohol, it is also used in certain foods and in many liqueurs and spirits.

The Alternative Fuels & Advanced Vehicles Data Center states that almost any plant material can be used to produce ethanol, because all plants contain the sugars needed for fermentation in the ethanol production process.

Pure ethanol is not yet used as a stand alone fuel because it cannot produce enough power for standard vehicle use; however it is blended with gasoline in varying percentages for use in standard engines or specially made engines.

Blends:

  • E10: This blend is ninety percent gas. Any automobile on the road can use this blend.  In an ongoing effort to reduce emissions and to move the country towards “green” energy, the largest part of stations now sell this variety, with only twenty-five percent still selling standard gas.
  • E85: E85 is used in flex fuel vehicles. Due to the large number of these vehicles and the even larger number being produced, more E85 pumps are popping up nationwide to meet the growing demand.
  • E20, E30, E40: Recently researchers have begun trying to find ways to use these blends in standard vehicles. The hope is that these percentages will allow proper engine operation while decreasing toxic emissions and U.S. petroleum consumption.

For more information on blends, dispensation, pumps, and more, visit https://growthenergy.org/.

Ethanol Benefits

 

Economic: From the rural towns where ethanol producing crops are grown, to the factories where ethanol is produced, to gas stations across the country; ethanol is a homegrown, high octane, economic super fuel.

In fact, studies have shown that production facilities:

  • Add approximately $110 million per year to local economies.
  • Add $19.6 million to annual household income in the surrounding area.
  • Increase local and state taxes by $1.2 million per year minimum.
  • Provide about 700 extra jobs to the community and surrounding areas.

Environmental Impact Of Ethanol

According to the EPA, gasoline is the most prolific man-made environmental pollutant on the planet, churning out tons of CO2, particulates, and other compounds that damage human and environmental health.

Fuel Blends:

  • Reduce carbon monoxide emissions by 10% – 30%.
  • Reduce greenhouse gases by 12% – 19%.
  • Burn much more cleanly than pure gasoline due to ethanol’s high oxygen content.
  • Are safer for the environment.

 

Alternative Uses

In addition to automotive fuel, it can be used for a variety of purposes, including industrial usage, beverages, foods, and beauty products.

Industrial Uses

  • Household Cleaning Products: Many household cleaning agents have high concentrations of alcohol – up to 80% in some case – to help kill bacteria.
  • Solvents: Ethanol is used as a solvent in the production of paint, lacquer, and explosives as well as in chemical processing.
  • Beauty Products: Hairspray, mouthwash, aftershave, cologne, perfume, deodorants, lotions, hand sanitizers, soaps, and shampoos all contain ethanol.
  • Medications: Ethanol is used in many medications including, cough suppressants and decongestants. It is also used as a solvent in the production of antibiotics, vaccines, tablets, pills, and vitamins.
  • Foods: Extracts and glazes contain high concentrations of alcohol.
  • Beverages: Ethanol is manufactured as a nameless grain alcohol and then provided to many different alcoholic beverage manufacturers.

 

Storage

Ethanol safety and storage regulations are generally the same as gasoline regulations. Both require storage in fire rated, impact resistant tanks that have secondary containment. There are, however, a few things to keep in mind when considering ethanol storage tanks.

  • Zinc, brass, aluminum, or other soft metals, which are often found in gasoline storage and dispensing systems, are not compatible with ethanol. Stainless steel tanks are recommended.
  • Make sure your current piping and hoses are compatible with ethanol. Over time, ethanol will degrade natural rubber, polyurethane, some elastomers and polymers in flex piping, bushings, gaskets, meters, filters, and materials made of cork.
  • Be sure to check for and completely remove all water from tanks before initial filling. Check regularly for moisture after that. Ethanol will mix completely with water, rendering it useless for gasoline blends.
  • Be doubly sure that all dip sticks, probes, and other testing devices are properly calibrated for use in this type of fuel.
  • ASTs (Above ground fuel Storage Tanks) are an excellent option for storing small to very large quantities of ethanol. They are easy to install, test, and maintain, ensuring long life of the tank and the fuel it houses as well as increasing safety.

Helpful Links

This fuel has so many uses and so much to offer that it cannot all be listed here, so here are some helpful links to help you fully educate yourself on ethanol and its benefits.

http://www.ethanolrfa.org

http://www.nrel.gov

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