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Ethanol - History, Advantages Of Ethanol As An Alternative Fuel, Disadvantages Of Ethanol As An Alternative Fuel

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Ephemeris to Evolution - Historical Background

Ethanol is an alcohol fuel that is manufactured by fermenting and distilling crops with a high starch or sugar content, such as grains, sugarcane, or corn. In the energy sector, ethanol can be used for space and water heating, to generate electricity, and as an alternative vehicle fuel, which has been its major use to date. Worldwide, ethanol is the mostly widely used alternative liquid fuel. Ethanol is also known as ethyl alcohol, drinking alcohol, and grain alcohol.

The United States produced 780 million gallons (3 billion l) of ethanol in 1986 and plans to increase this to 1.8 billion gal (7 billion l). This ethanol is mostly blended with conventional gasoline to make gasohol (90% gasoline and 10% ethanol). Gasohol accounts for 8% of national gasoline sales and 25-35% of sales in the farming states of Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, and Nebraska, where much ethanol is manufactured from maize. Brazil, the world's largest producer and consumer of ethanol, uses a gasohol blend of 85-95% gasoline and 15-5% ethanol. Brazil produces 3 billion gal (12 billion l) of ethanol yearly, almost all of which is manufactured from sugar cane.


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