Ethanol as an Alternative Fuel for Vehicles Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1382 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Energy

¶ … elucidates on the possibilities of using ethanol as an alternative fuel in vehicles. The chemical composition, procedure of preparation and blending, as well as the pros and cons of using the substance are then examined. Ethanol is an alcohol-based organic compound produced by fermenting and distilling starch crops that have been converted into simple sugars. The feedstock or raw materials used in the preparation of this substance include corn, barley or wheat. Ethanol can also be produced from "cellulosic biomass" for instance corn stalks, rice straw, sugar cane bagasse, pulpwood, switch grass, and municipal solid waste. When prepared by using the starch called cellulose found in the plant cells, it is called Bioethanol. Ethanol is most commonly used to increase octane and improve the emission quality of gasoline.

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Term Paper on Ethanol as an Alternative Fuel for Vehicles Assignment

Ethanol also known as ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol has an empirical formulae, EtOH. It is a colorless, clear liquid, soluble in aqueous or water-based solution and has a sweet flavor; but in high concentrations it gives a tingling or somewhat burning taste. Ethanol (CH3CH2OH as referred in chemical symbology) is made up of a combination of chemical compounds having molecules containing a hydroxyl group, -OH, bonded covalently to a carbon atom. The amendments made in the Clean Air Act 1990 authorized the selling of oxygenated fuel in areas with unhealthy levels of carbon monoxide. Since then, the demand for ethanol as oxygenate blended with gasoline has been ever increasing. Every year in the United States, approximately 2 billion gallons of ethanol is added to gasoline for increasing octane and improving the emission quality of gasoline (Alternative Fuels Data Center, 2005). The Energy Policy Act of 1992 mandates the blending of at least 85% of ethanol in gasoline to be used as an alternative fuel. Such a composition is industrially referred to as E85 which is a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. This formula is readily used in flexible fuel vehicles or FFVs that are being currently manufactured by most major auto manufacturers having capability of running on gasoline, E85 or any combination of the two. Also in some areas, ethanol is blended with a greater ratio of gasoline to form an E10 blend which comprises of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline. Initially, the need of alternative fuel was gravely felt during the oil embargo of the 1970s; investors began to explore the possibilities of developing a homegrown treatment for the energy problem as two-thirds of the fuel was imported from the Middle East. Moreover environmental benefits of opting for ethanol as an alternate included reduction in the greenhouse gas emissions and also toxic emissions. In 2004, the required use of ethanol comprised of about 2 billion gallons of consumption while voluntary consumption (i.e. non-governmental) accounted for about one billion gallons of E-10.

Ethanol-blended fuels cut greenhouse gases from tailpipe emissions.

Climate Change connection, tailpipe emissions, June 2003, Climate Change connection retrieved online on October 26, 2005 at www.climatechangeconnection.org/

Any biological feedstocks that contain certain amounts of sugar or any material that can be converted into sugars such as cellulose and starch can be used to produce ethanol. Some examples could be sugar and sugar cane. Starch containing feedstocks such as corn can also be converted into sugar. A plant is significantly composed of a substance called cellulose which is a form of starch that can also be converted into sugar but with greater difficulty compared to the regular starch. The process of ethanol preparation sets off by grinding up the feedstock for better execution of the following preparation steps. After being ground, the sugars are either dissolved out of the material or starch or cellulose is converted into sugar. Sugar is then fed into microbes undergoing a chemical reaction producing ethanol and carbon dioxide in the process. Finally ethanol is distilled for purification and given the desired concentration. Another process of ethanol preparation is called "wet-milling" process. Large ethanol producers use this process; it also yields products such as high-fructose corn sweetener as a byproduct. Owing to limited crude oil supplies and refining capacity and a rising concern over environmental degradation,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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