What is Ethanol and How is it Used?

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  2. February 6, 2013 9:50 pm

What is Ethanol and How is it Used?

Ethanol is produced by fermenting plant sugars into alcohol. Today, corn with high sugar content and sugar cane is grown for ethanol production. Ethanol fuel can power small camping stoves and is unique in its ability to be combined with other fuels for use in automobiles and other combustion engines.

Most cars can operate using ethanol/gasoline mixtures. Today’s flex fuel vehicles are able to operate with mixtures of up to 85 percent ethanol. Signs at fuel stations will have markings such as E10, E20 and so on. The “E” stands for ethanol and the number tells the consumer the amount of ethanol is in the fuel. For example, the sign E10 means that the fuel contains 10 percent ethanol.

Ethanol burns cleaner than gasoline, that is, it produces less contaminants such as green house gasses. A study performed in 2009 by The University of Nebraska showed that ethanol produces from 48 percent to 59 percent fewer emissions than gasoline. The EPA recognizes the benefits of ethanol fuel use as well. Green house gasses can be reduced by up to 52 percent. This will have a direct affect on the global warming trend.

Another use for ethanol is produced when substances are added to prevent it from being consumed as a drink, one of its first uses. Denatured alcohol is widely used for industrial purposes. It also has many household uses such as cleaning windows, as an insecticide, a camping stove fuel and many others.

Ethanol is also used in the manufacture of perfumes, nail polish remover and industrial solvents. The oldest use of ethanol is as a beverage. The side effects of this are well known. Ethanol, also known as grain alcohol, is added to a variety of medications to induce relaxation or sleep. Warning labels are attached to prevent


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