It is a type of fuel; an alternative energy. Ethanol is an alcohol extracted with the help from the yeast of sugars. However, fuel ethanol is highly concentrated ethanol that can be used as a fuel for cars (1). Bio-fuels are believed to be great sources of energy. Ethanol, is believed to be one of them because it involves photosynthesis to be produced. Solar energy is “captured and transformed into biomass that can be combusted to produce energy.” Additionally, the Carbon Dioxide placed into the atmosphere will be reused in the next cycle. Sugarcane ethanol is promising. It is able to absorb more CO2 than what it produces and the price of production is low (3).
It could be blended with gasoline and used for cars. In order for most cars to work normally, the blend from gasoline and ethanol can be only up to 10% ethanol. There are blends that go up to 85% ethanol but their implementation requires the cars to be modified (1). “The drop in demand for gas has helped push up ethanol stocks to a record high last week of 22.7 million barrels as the U.S. government mandates that each gallon of gasoline in the country can contain only 10 percent ethanol (2)” Additionally, since the demand for gasoline has gone down, suppliers cannot afford to blend more ethanol. They need either the price of or the demand for gasoline to go up or they will have to shut down their plants. (2)
Ethanol is an alternative energy to fossil fuels because it is a renewable source. However, energy is lost when “converting from one form of energy to another.” As a result, ethanol is not as powerful as other sources of energy. Another problem with the production of ethanol involves the energy necessary for its production. Fuel is used to transport the plants and inside the factories to process it.(1) The largest producer of ethanol is The USA but it is produced from corn. Brazil is the second largest producer of ethanol and the largest sugarcane ethanol producer in the world (4). Both situations are the result of climatic conditions.
The demand for ethanol has increased as fossil fuel’s prices increase. This has led to an increase in ethanol production but this presents challenges for agriculture and the economy in general. Since more corn, sugarcane, and beet-sugar produces are being used as a source of ethanol, the supply for sugar and HFCS lowers. The industry is facing a challenge and some “advances in biotechnology and engineering” have opened our minds. Different types of raw materials could be used for the production of ethanol. (1)
How is it produced?
Is ethanol worsening economy?
Concerns have been raised since the supply of sugar is being affected by the supply of ethanol. The video below shows a small picture of the debate around it.
(1)Nathan S. Mosier and Klein Ileleji. “How Fuel Ethanol Is Made from Corn.” Purdue University. Web. 20 March. 2012 <http://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/ID/ID-328.pdf>
(2) Hirtzer, Michael. “Gasoline Rises to Record Premium over Ethanol.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 26 Mar. 2012. Web. 22 Apr. 2012. <http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/26/us-gasoline-ethanol-spread-idUSBRE82P15420120326>.
(3) Luiz Martinelli and Solange Filosofo. “Expansion of Sugarcane Ethanol Production in Brazil: Environmental and Social Challenges.” Web. 18 March. 2012. <www.tamu.edu/faculty/tpd8/BICH407/Brazilenvsoc2.pdf>
(4) “Ethanol.” Times Topics/ Ethanol. 22 Apr. 2012. Web. 22 Apr. 2012. <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/e/ethanol/index.html>.