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Current Research And Outlook

Current research is investigating ways to reduce the cost of ethanol production. DOE's research partners are developing a process, called enzymatic hydrolysis, that uses special strains of yeast to manufacture ethanol in an inexpensive, high-yield procedure. This project is also developing the use of waste products as a fuel for ethanol production.

Other researchers are investigating the problems of ethanol-fueled vehicles in prototype and demonstration projects. These projects are helping engineers to increase fuel efficiency and starting reliability. However, until the economic and technical problems are solved, ethanol will mostly be used in countries or areas that have limited access to oil reserves or have an excess of biomass for use in the ethanol production process.



Miller, G.T., Jr. Environmental Science: Sustaining the Earth. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1991.

Poulton, M.L. Alternative Fuels for Road Vehicles. Boston: Computational Mechanics, 1994.

Jennifer LeBlanc


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Energy density

—The relative energy in a specific amount of fuel.

Enzymatic hydrolysis

—A low-cost, high-yield process of converting plant material into ethanol fuel using yeast.

Ethyl alcohol/drinking alcohol/grain alcohol

—Alternative terms for ethanol.


—A fuel mixture of gasoline and ethanol.


—Waste generated when ethanol fuel is produced.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Ephemeris to Evolution - Historical BackgroundEthanol - History, Advantages Of Ethanol As An Alternative Fuel, Disadvantages Of Ethanol As An Alternative Fuel