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Alternative Fuels : Ethanol

Essay by   •  November 24, 2010  •  Essay  •  596 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,249 Views

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With the demand for fossil fuels growing through out the world, there is with out a doubt a lack of supply for this demand. The United States is the world's highest consumer of fossil fuels because of the amount of Automobiles that we have on the roads every day. This is not one of the statistics that a country should be proud of being at the top of. Since the United States is the leader of the consumption of these fossil fuels, the government is making an effort to look for alternative fuels that we can use and substitute these new types of fuel in place of oil and gasoline to preserve our fossil fuels and make them last longer. One of the fuels that they are looking into is ethanol or CH3CH2OH which is the chemical make up of ethanol.

Ethanol is a clear colorless liquid that at low levels has a sweet taste, but at levels needed for fuel use it has a burning taste. Since 1990, when the government decided that gasoline burned had unsafe levels of carbon monoxide, ethanol has been added to gasoline in order to make it a higher octane level, burn cleaner, and to over all improve the emissions of gasoline. In order for an ethanol mixture to be considered an alternative fuel, it must be a blend of over 85% Ethanol and less than 15% gasoline. E85 is considered the lowest levels of ethanol to become an alternative fuel. E85 can be ran by Flexible fuel vehicles that come directly from the factory.

Ethanol can also be made from any biological feed stocks that contain appreciable amounts of sugar or materials that can be converted into sugar such as starch or cellulose. Sugar beets and sugar cane are examples of feed stocks that contain sugar. Corn contains starch that can relatively easily be converted into sugar. Even most trees and grasses have cellulose that can easily be turned into sugar and then used in the making of ethanol. The ethanol process starts by grinding up the feedstock so it is more easily and quickly processed. Once ground up, the sugar is either dissolved out of the material or the starch or cellulose is converted into sugar. Then the sugar is fed to microbes and used for food, producing ethanol and carbon dioxide in the process. Lastly the ethanol is purified to the desired concentration.

The benefits of ethanol are pretty clear, E85 is easy to handle and use. It is even possible to convert some of your equipment to use E85 for a low cost and does not have to replace whatever it is you are using. The use of E85

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