Alternative Fuels - the future of power for automobiles
Ethanol (ethyl alcohol and/or grain alcohol) is a colorless liquid. Ethanol is not used by itself in fuels. It is mixed with gasoline, which reduces the need for as much gasoline. There are currently two different types of blends, E85 and E95. In E85, 85% of the fluid is Ethanol, with the rest being gasoline. In E95, 95% of the fluid is Ethanol with the rest being gasoline.

There is a 7 step process to create Ethanol. First, the corn, barley, or wheat is milled into a fine powder. Second, the powder is liquefied by mixing it with water and alpha-amylase while heating it. Next, it is mixed with an enzyme called gluco-amylase to turn it into dextrose, this is called saccharification. It is then fermented with yeast. It is now called beer, which has about a 10% alcohol level. It is distilled to seperate the alcohol from the rest of the liquid, it is now 96% strength. It is then dehydrated to make it 100% alcohol. The final step is to denature it to make it not consumable for humans. There are co-products, making the process waste nothing. This entire process makes corn more valuable by turning it into other products worth more.

Links for more information:

  • AFDC Ethanol Vehicle Page
  • American Coalition for Ethanol
  • Ethanol Information Centre
  • Ethanol Vehicle Challenge
  • Governors Ethanol Coalition
  • Renewable Fuels Association
  • How Much Energy Does it Take to Make a Gallon of Ethanol?

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