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Just the Basics Ethanol

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Just the Basics Ethanol ( just-basics-ethanol )

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freedomCAR & vehicle technologies program Just the Basics Ethanol Alcohol and driving don’t mix. Or do they? Actually, they go together just fine, so long as your vehicle is the one consuming the alcohol. Ethanol, which is 200-proof alcohol, the kind found in whiskey, wine, and beer, is an excellent fuel after it is denatured to make it unfit for human consumption. Why Is Ethanol Important? Ethanol offers many advantages over gasoline and diesel fuel. For one thing, it’s derived from plant matter, which is a sustainable resource, so supplies can be replenished indefinitely. For another, ethanol is produced domesti- cally, making inventories immune to shortages created by foreign powers, as happened in the 1970s and again around 1990 with crude oil. Also, using ethanol in place of gasoline or diesel fuel helps boost the U.S. economy. On top of all that, vehicles running on ethanol produce significantly fewer harmful emissions than vehicles burning gasoline. Unlike petroleum- based fuels, ethanol produces no net carbon dioxide emissions. That’s because ethanol is made from plants that remove carbon dioxide from the air while growing. In fact, more carbon dioxide is removed during crop growth than is released to the air during the manufacture and use of ethanol as a fuel, so using ethanol actually lessens the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere on an U.S. Department of Energy • Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy overall basis. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming by preventing some of the sun’s radiation from escaping the Earth. How Ethanol Works Ethanol helps keep engines clean, too. It burns more completely and at a slightly cooler temperature than gasoline. This means longer spark plug life and fewer combustion deposits. Ethanol burns well because it is an oxygenate, meaning that ethanol molecules contain oxygen. Oxygen atoms inside ethanol join forces with oxygen molecules in the air to help ethanol burn more completely. This extra amount of oxygen also helps gasoline burn better when it is blended with ethanol. Better combustion is an important factor leading to fewer harmful emissions. A blend containing 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline (called E10) can reduce carbon monoxide emissions from older vehicles by as much as 25%. Emissions of smog-producing hydro- carbons, soot particles, and toxic and ozone-producing chemicals are reduced, as well. You may be aware of E10 without realizing it. The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 specify that a certain amount of oxygen be added to gasoline, in the form of an Less dependence on foreign oil, and eventual transition to an emissions-free, petroleum-free vehicle How is ethanol made? As an alcohol, ethanol is made using a process similar to that used in making beer. Ethanol can be made using the cellulose from trees, grasses, agricultural residues, waste paper, waste wood, and other biomass. These "feedstocks" are converted into sugar. The sugar is fermented into ethanol and then distilled into its final form. Bringing you a prosperous future where energy is clean, abundant, reliable, and affordable

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