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List of Pros and Cons of Ethanol Fuel

In the world we live in today fuel is crucial for survival. We realize that Henry Ford was onto something with Ethanol. However, the pros and cons of ethanol fuel is the subject of debate in many places.

Ethanol is mostly a natural product. We get if from crops like sugar cane, grain, and corn. That makes it very sustainable, especially in an environment where the producers are ‘energy conscious’ and are being forcefully steered away from the use of fossil fuels. We have the ability to grow both food crops and fuel crops and farmers stand to benefit over the next few decades.

How It’s Made

The process of producing ethanol for fuel starts with the microbial fermentation of all natural sugars. Before the process can start, some of these products have to undergo another process known as ‘saccharification’. That’s when the natural carbohydrates, such as starch and cellulose, are converted into sugar using enzymes. Just like when your produce alcohol, the sugars are distilled and dehydration takes place.

When it comes to producing and consuming ethanol fuel, the United States and Brazil rank as the largest consumers. Here are a few of the pros and cons to ethanol fuel –

List of Pros of Ethanol

1. Producing ethanol is cleaner than producing other fuels. It creates far less greenhouse emissions. Producing ethanol using corn rather than gasoline lowers the greenhouse emissions by a whopping 13%. As technology continues to improve this number is expected to go even higher in the future.

2. Studies show that corn-based ethanol fuel creates a truly positive energy balance. This goes against the grain of scoffers who tout that ethanol requires more energy to be produced than it can deliver as a fuel. Ethanol production creates several valuable products and by-products. Corn oil is a good example.

List of Cons of Ethanol

1. Prices for ethanol fluctuate a lot and in a different way from gasoline. There was a time when ethanol was selling for nearly 30 cents less on the gallon compared to regular gas, however, it has also sold for as much as 80 cents more than gas.

2. Ethanol holds a lesser amount of energy compared to gasoline. The result is a reduction in mileage of around 20% to 30%. For those who are living in areas where the ethanol is a bit higher-priced, it could be cheaper to buy gasoline.

3. We have a real lack of ethanol-producing facilities. That keeps it from being more widely used. Along with that we also have less ethanol fueling stations. You find most of the ethanol fueling stations around the Mid-west where the production of ethanol is higher.

Methanol is also rising as a cheaper alternative to gasoline and possibly a viable competitor for ethanol. Time will tell.