Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bioethanol: How Bioethanol Fits Into The New Environmentally Friendly Industry

Bioethanol is a fully sustainable energy source that has been extracted from renewable raw materials like starch plants including corn, wheat and cassava, sugar plants including beets and can and some cellulose plants which come from trees. Bioethanol is well burning fuel that does not contain nay harmful particles, is much better than its gasoline counterpart and reduces overall air pollution which is good for the environment.

Bioethanol is being produced through the hydrolysis and sugar fermentation processes. It requires diluted enzymes and sulphuric acids which help to break down the cellulose and hemicelluloses in order to produce sucrose sugar which is in turn fermented into ethanol.

Closely connected to biodiesel, bioethanol is a liquid biofuel and can be added to standard unleaded gasoline at levels of up to 5% and can be used in cars currently on the road. By replacing bioethanol for fossil fuels, emissions from fossil fuels are avoided and Co2 levels are reduced because the biomasses that serve as raw material for bioethanol production require Co2 for growth.

Bioethanol is renewable from plants likes cereals, sugar beets and the like or biomass. Cellulosic ethanol is made from stalks and husks as well as other plant cellulose materials, but it still needs to go through the fermentation process and uses cast-off waste products from food that's in the process of growth. Cellulosic ethanol is made from the non-food portion of many agricultural wastes like corn stover which is the stalks and residue left post-harvest.

It hasn't been until very recently that the problem of complex mixtures of sugars in bioethanol fuels that made up these leftover materials could be converted in an efficient manner by bakers yeast. However, Delft University Technology recently came up with a method that solved this problem. It was accomplished by genetically modifying the bakers yeast.

Brazil makes most of its bioethanol from local crops of sugar cane which has been a great material for ethanol fuel production. Half of all cars in Brazil are running on ethanol.

Another process still under development shows great promise. It involves the gasification of biomass combined with catalytic process that leads to the production of bioethanol. It has been making gains and garnering more attention in the United States.

While the gasification to produce bioethanol needs more research, the main reason for its continued popularity is that, it can be easily blended with gasoline in a mixture of 5% bioethanol and 95% gasoline which is suitable for use in cars already on the road today. This can work in cars without modification only with an additive package.

E95 has been designed specifically to be utilized in certain diesel-engine buses which can be easily converted to run on the bioethanol mixture.

Fuel companies will be legally obligated in 2010 to mix five percent bioethanol with 95% gasoline and 5% biodiesel with 95% conventional diesel. While mixes at these levels will cause no damage to existing fuel systems and can run without any adjustments, it will become the standard ingredient in fuel.

Bioethanol production is currently estimated at around 30 million tons per year. Biodiesel fuel is only estimated at 2.5 million tons per year. This is going to increase significantly over the next few years. While the crop chosen depends largely upon prevailing soil and climactic conditions, bioethanol can be produced from nearly any type of crop produced.

As governments strive to be less reliant on foreign oils, sustainable fuels like bioethanol become ever more important for industrialized nations. As in all things, energy security will need to increase in many countries as petroleum exports decrease and pure bioethanol production swings into full gear.

Research and testing has been widespread as mixtures of methanol, water, acidity, phosphorus and sulphur contents to include are tweaked and filtered. These are just some of the impurities that can commonly be found in bioethanol, and maximum limits of these need to be imposed to avoid numerous problems in the automobile using it. Europe already has a standard EN DIN 228 which permits blending of up to 5% with gasoline. This fuel mixture of E5 has been proven to be used in standard engines with no problems.

Current companies involved in bioethanol production and distribution are making strides at creating an infrastructure which can implement the intentions and policies concerning biofuel. In the meantime, all us must remain vigilant about the positive impact of bioethanol and other biofuel, and keep an eye on how it's expanding. In theory,

Bioethanol is considered to be 100% carbon neutral. this means that every bit of carbon that is burned while using it as fuel can eventually be recycled back into the next crop of vegetables as they grow. While this is great in theory, it has quite been clarified as to how this can be implemented in practice. There are additional carbon costs such as how to power agricultural vehicles, fertilizer production and fuel transportation.

All in all, with very biofuel being developed and implemented, there is a learning curve involved. All implementation of biofuel will, however, add to negatively impacting the environment.

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