35 Ethanol Facts For Kids To Know About The Fuel

Aryan Khanna
Mar 05, 2023 By Aryan Khanna
Originally Published on Feb 09, 2022
Edited by Lara Simpson
Fact-checked by Pratiti Nath
An additive along with gasoline
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.0 Min

The ethanol fuel is also known as ethyl alcohol, this alcohol can be found in many alcoholic beverages, but the proportions it is used in differ significantly.

As a fuel, ethanol is primarily used as a motor fuel but only as an additive along with gasoline, with a constant increase in its use over the years. At the same time, ethanol is a biomass fuel making it a renewable energy resource, meaning that it can thus be replaced or reproduced.

In simpler terms, ethanol is a fuel made from feedstocks like corn, sugarcane, and other plants and is generally used to power cars and other vehicles. Scientists have calculated that to generate the amount of energy generated by 1 volume of gasoline, one and a half times ethanol is required, making its gasoline gallon equivalency 1.5.

The ethanol industry currently produces corn ethanol in two primary ways, the dry milling process and the wet milling process. These industries take around one bushel of corn as their input to produce around 3 gals (11.35 l) of ethanol.

At the same time, when they produce ethanol, they also produce a co-product known as corn oil along with carbon dioxide.

The biggest ethanol manufacturers are Bunge Ltd., Corn, LP, and Archer Daniels Midland Co. These companies transport the majority of their ethanol by trains or by trucks.

Facts About Ethanol

Ethanol is believed to be one of the most crucial biofuels in the years to come as it is one of those renewable fuels which grow in a relatively short period. With depleting fossil fuel reserves, electricity and biofuels like ethanol might be the future of vehicles. Let's now look at some amazing facts about this renewable energy source.

  • Did you know, back in 1982, there were less than 39 ethanol plants, and ethanol production was around 350 million gallons, but fast forward to 2012, there were 211 ethanol plants. The ethanol production rose to 2.14 billion gals (8.1 million l)?
  • From 1982 to 2012, the number of ethanol plants has grown by leaps and bounds, and ethanol production as well has shot up by 3700%.
  • Did you know ethanol was invented back in 1828 by Michael Faraday?
  • Did you know ethanol makes up one-tenth of the total gasoline supply in the United States?
  • Around 97% of the gasoline used in the United States as of today contains ethanol in it.
  • Ethanol production generally uses corn or sugar cane or barley or sugar beets as its raw product but did you know ethanol as a fuel can also be produced from feedstocks such as wood chips, rice straw, corn cobs, and sawdust?
  • Using yeast to ferment the sugar and starch content in sugar beets, corn, and sugar cane is arguably the most widely used ethanol production method in the world. These plants use cellulosic biomass to produce ethanol.
  • In the United States, the majority of the ethanol industry uses corn as its raw product due to its low prices and abundant availability.
  • On the other hand, sugar beets and sugar cane are used for ethanol production in the rest of the world as they are easier to convert into alcohol.
  • The United States has the maximum ethanol production of all countries in the world, closely followed by Brazil in second place.
  • Interestingly, most of the cars in Brazil can run on pure ethanol or a high blend of it with gasoline.
  • Did you know ethanol produces double the amount of energy required to produce it?
  • Did you know ethanol requires only the plant's starch to be produced? The other components, such as fat, protein, and fiber, are transformed into animal feed.

Uses Of Ethanol

Ethanol is one of the most sustainable sources of renewable fuels and has multiple uses apart from being used only as a source of fuel or consumable alcohol.

Ethanol is one of the most widely used organic chemicals in the world and is required for the production of both consumer products and certain industries for the production of other goods.

  • In the healthcare industry, ethanol is widely used in the production of hand sanitizers and medical wipes due to its anti-fungal properties.
  • Did you know ethanol can also be used as an antiseptic as it leads to cell dehydration which leads to water exiting from the cells and eventual cell death?
  • Did you know ethanol acts as an antidote for methanol poisoning and ethylene glycol poisoning?
  • Several cold and cough medicines and syrups contain high amounts of ethanol.
  • Ethanol is also commonly used for recreational purposes under strict guidelines and is one of the most popular psychoactive drugs in the world.
  • In the automobile industry, ethanol has been present as an alternative to petroleum for an extended period of years but has been used in higher proportions in recent years.
  • Did you know plastic and textile industries also undertake the use of ethanol to manufacture some of their products?
  • You can also find the presence of ethanol in some cleaning supplies and cosmetics.
  • Did you know ethanol acts as a precursor for producing various organic compounds, including acetic acid, ethyl halides, diethyl ether, and ethyl esters?
Every hand sanitizer contains some amount of ethanol, but its proportion varies from brand to brand.

Benefits Of Ethanol

Among all alcohol fuels, ethanol is arguably the most commonly used type combined with gasoline. Compared to other fuel types, ethanol displays a range of advantages ranging from lower emissions to higher energy production.

  • Ethanol is relatively much cheaper than the fossil fuels that we use, as ethanol is produced from feedstocks like corn and sugar cane which can be grown in every country.
  • The cost of ethanol is lesser than fossil fuels because the exploration costs that need to be incurred for discovering fossil fuels need not be borne in the case of ethanol.
  • With the world striving towards carbon-neutral goals in the coming years, lower emissions are one of the most advantageous features of ethanol.
  • When the Ethanol gasoline ratio is 85:15, it leads to the least amount of greenhouse gas emissions as ethanol burns much more cleanly than gasoline.
  • Reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases would also lead to a stark fall in the factors contributing to global warming.
  • A reduction in the rates of global warming would also lead to minimizing the risks of an increase in sea level, excessively high temperatures, and weather patterns.
  • In the long run, ethanol production can also lead to new employment opportunities as there would be an increase in the number of ethanol plants in the country.

Ethanol's Properties

Ethanol, also known as grain alcohol, is a chemical widely used as fuel for automobiles, the primary component in alcoholic beverages, and also has other uses in the healthcare industry. Let us look at some physical and chemical properties of ethanol.

  • When looked at, ethanol is a colorless, transparent liquid with a pleasant odor and produces a burning sensation when consumed.
  • Ethanol can instantly mix with water and many other liquids, unlike oil.
  • Unsurprisingly, ethanol is a highly volatile and flammable organic compound.
  • Ethanol melts at a -173.2 F (-114 C) temperature and boils at 173.3 F (78.5 C).
  • Ethanol is represented by the molecular formula CH3CH2OH and at the same time has an alternative notation, CH3−CH2−OH.
  • Did you know ethanol is more refractive than water but only by the slightest of margins?

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Written by Aryan Khanna

Bachelor of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

Aryan Khanna picture

Aryan KhannaBachelor of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

A dedicated and hardworking content writer currently pursuing his Bachelor's in Management Studies from St. Xavier's University, Kolkata. Aryan aims to gain corporate exposure and enhance his skills while creating well-researched and engaging content that is SEO-friendly. Aryan is a talented individual who puts in the effort to overcome any obstacle in his way.

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Fact-checked by Pratiti Nath

Bachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology, Masters of Science specializing in Biotechnology

Pratiti Nath picture

Pratiti NathBachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology, Masters of Science specializing in Biotechnology

A Master's in Biotechnology from Presidency University and a Bachelor's in Microbiology from Calcutta University. Pratiti holds expertise in writing science and healthcare articles, and their inputs and feedback help writers create insightful content. They have interests in heritage, history, and climate change issues and have written articles for various websites across multiple subjects. Their experience also includes working with eco-friendly startups and climate-related NGOs.

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