Ethanol: The environmentally friendly fuel
The biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions is transportation fuel — the exhaust from the millions of cars, trucks, and other vehicles on our roads.
Various studies show that ethanol significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions in comparison to petrol. The US International Energy Agency (IEA) has stated that bio-fuels, whether used individually or blended with other fuels, improve air quality.
Adding ethanol to petrol reduces the emission of carbon monoxide (CO), particles, hydrocarbons and SO2. According to the IEA adding ethanol to petrol reduces the emission of the most toxic air contaminants, such as benzene, butadiene and toluene by up to 30%.
New legislation from the European Commission released in June 2010, considers bio-fuels as fuels that reach a minimum greenhouse gas emission saving of at least 35%, which ethanol can achieve.
Why is ethanol a ‘sustainable fuel’?
Ethanol from sugar cane provides an average net energy gain of at least 67% in respect of the energy used in its production.
As a clean burning fuel, it reduces air pollution and decreases greenhouse gas emissions by over 60%. Ethanol is a renewable energy source because the energy is generated by using a resource –– sunlight –– which is naturally replenished.
Ethanol can make an important contribution to a sustainable future and Green Fuel is compliant with the European Commission Sustainability Scheme for Biofuels and Bio-liquid guideline published in June 2010.
Ethanol replaces toxic MBTEs
Current world trends indicate that most countries are blending ethanol with unleaded petrol to remove the harmful and toxic Methyl-tertiary-butyl-ethers (MBTEs). MBTEs were traditionally used to boost the octane rating of unleaded petrol.
The use of ethanol not only increases the octane rating but it is also environmentally friendly. E10-E20 blends can reduce CO emissions by up to 30% under the right conditions.
Ethanol is used all over the world
Global ethanol production hit 88,7 billion litres in 2011 replacing the need for one million barrels of crude oil per day worldwide. This highlights the growing impact that ethanol production is having on reducing the world’s reliance on crude oil.
Ethanol is most widely used in Brazil and the United States, with the two countries being responsible for 90% of the world’s ethanol fuel production in 2011.
Brazil has had policies in place for over 30 years promoting and encouraging the production and use of ethanol as a fuel for transportation. Brazil is considered to have the world’s first sustainable bio-fuels economy.
It is a policy model for other countries, with light vehicles in the country no longer running on pure petrol. Since July 2007, the mandatory blend is 25% of anhydrous ethanol and 75% petrol.
The United States uses and produces more ethanol fuel than any other country in the world. According to the US Energy Information Administration there are more than eight million vehicles using ethanol fuel on the roads. The use of 15% ethanol blend is mandated in many US states and cities.
In Europe, consumption of ethanol is highest in Germany, Sweden, France and Spain. Biofuels are seen as a solution to today’s environmental problems, and the flex fuel market has been launched, awakening interest in drivers. All Swedish fuel stations are required by law to offer at least one alternative fuel, and one in five vehicles is powered by this fuel, mostly ethanol.
China is promoting ethanol-based fuel in five cities in its central and north eastern region – a move designed to raise farmers’ income and reduce petrol induced air pollution.
Thailand uses 10% ethanol on a large scale in their local market. 20% blend and flex fuel vehicles were introduced in 2008.
Over 55 countries around the world have mandated blending policies in place. The more ethanol a country produces, the higher the blend mandate.