Advantages of Ethanol

The advantages of ethanol can be abundant. Advantages of ethanol can come from all corners of the ethanol industry. Ethanol advantages are apparent in resource selection, ethanol production, and ultimately ethanol fuel consumption. In order to properly make these advantage have a positive impact on society, economy, and the environment, however, it is critical to make the proper decisions from the resource used to produce, to the way in which ethanol is consumed. Properly executed, the advantages of ethanol can have a wonderful effect on the fuel market, the economy, and the longevity of the planet.

The simplest point to make in favor of advantages of ethanol is that ethanol is a renewable resource. Enough said. The second simplest point pertains to resources used to produce ethanol. E85 ethanol has the advantage of being produced from all kinds of waste. The particular kinds of waste that can be used to take advantage of ethanol depends on the process by which the ethanol is obtained.

Advantages of Ethanol Production

Basically, there are three popular ways of making ethanol: Starch based, Cellulose based, and Gasification. While one of these has caught quite a bit of negative publicity (the starch based method), the other two still promise to be a viable potential economic and environmental solution (if only partial) to the oil demand issue.

Unfortunately, starch based ethanol is often cause the straw man argument against the advantages of ethanol. While it is true that starch based methods would increase food demand (and consequently prices), and also have a relatively poor EROEI (energy returned over energy invested), the faulty argument comes to the surface when these negative consequences are projected to the entire ethanol industry. This is an unfair arguement to make against ethanol advantages, because it applies to one of only three primary production methods, and yet people are misled to believe that the ethanol fuel industry in general is destined to be a failure.

The cellulose method is limited by the practical amount of obtainable resources needed to produce ethanol. However, it promises the ultimate EROEI, and can even use as its basic ingredient SOME urban and agricultural waste products. It does not require basic foodstuffs as its feedstock the way that virtually every starch based method does. Other cellulose rich feedstocks include certain vegetation (such as switch grass and the jerusalem artichoke) that can be grown in 'marginal' areas. Marginal basically means 'land unsuitable for growth of foodstuffs'. So cellulosic ethanol promises two advantages in terms of the production process. It can be grown on land that was otherwise useless, and it can be employed to reduce waste production (by turning waste into a resource).

The gasification method is the elephant gun solution to human waste pollution. This method superheats waste (into a gas state), breaking it down into basic elements, and allows the these elements to recombine so as to create ethanol. This process can use virtually ANY kind of waste product as fuel, and therefore can be doubly beneficial to the environment (by both eliminating waste and reducing oil demand). The EROEI on this method is not as attractive as the cellulose method, but so long as it nets positive, its a worthwhile industry to convert trash into energy, even if the EROEI is marginal. A marginal return would suggest a high cost of ethanol produced this way, but the resource is free, and in fact may even be government subsidized to encourage the market, as it is a way to eliminate trash and waste. There are already businesses offering 1 to 2 dollars per gallon of ethanol made via the gasification process.

Advantages of Ethanol Gas

Regardless of how it is produced, consumption of ethanol gas is more environmentally friendly than consumption of oil based gasoline in virtually every aspect. Consumption of ethanol only produces one type of greenhouse gas (CO2), and reportedly it produces less of this type than consumption of oil based gas. The fact that oil based gas consumption produces more greenhouse gases of other types (such as NO2) also makes consumption of ethanol a better environment solution to the negative impact of fuel consumption.

Employing the Advantages of Ethanol

There are many people who argue against the use of ethanol as a source of fuel. Out of all the articles I have read I have noticed one common point amongst those anti-ethanol articles. It all has to do with how the ethanol is produced. Increasing the cost of food is a consequence of food based ethanol production. Even increased greenhouse gas emission from ethanol finds its argumentative home in the growth and production end of the ethanol industry. No one argues against the consumption of ethanol being better than the consumption of gasoline. So the anti ethanol arguments do provide a valuable insight, and that insight is NOT to look for more alternatives (though the slanted arguments do seem to lead to this conclusion). The insight is that we must be resourceful in how we grow and produce ethanol. Only then can ethanol be hailed as truly a worthwile solution to reducing oil demand in an environementally friendly way.

  • Make ethanol. A page about why you should make ethanol.
  • How to make ethanol. Self explanatory
  • Making ethanol. What actually happens?
  • Ethanol Free Gasoline. A bogus catchphrase for those who are either thoughtlessly or intentionally anti-green in the interest of making a buck.
  • Ethanol Plants. Learn about ethanol plants and what kind of plants exist.
  • Ethanol Trading. What will the market say about ethanol trading in years to come?
  • Ethanol stills. A page about the heart of ethanol making: the ethanol still
  • Ethanol production. Learn about the production process
  • Ethanol Prices. Learn about the state and progression of ethanol prices
  • Ethanol Fuel. Find out what's so great about this fuel anyway?
  • Ethanol Expansion. Information about the business of making ethanol
  • Ethanol Distilliation. Learn about the process of making the 'soup' into fuel
  • Ethanol Cars. Is your car capable of handling pure ethanol? Find out here!
  • E85 Conversion. If your car can't handle ethanol, learn here how to convert it.
  • Disadvantages of ethanol. No solution is perfect, but ethanol deserves a chance.
  • Corn Ethanol. Good idea, bad raw material.
  • Cellulosic Ethanol. Good idea, GOOD raw material.
  • Biofuel subsidies. An example of how corn ethanol is not the ethanol of choice.
  • E85. All about how to become a part of the green revolution!
  • Homemade Ethanol. Get a little more educated on how to properly prepare to make homemade ethanol, including safety precautions and the process.
  • Methanol Fuel Production. Learn about the production of ethanol's 'cousin'!
  • Ethanol Safety. Some safety precautions to consider when handling ethanol and ethanol production related chemicals.