Ethanol as a Fuel

Outline the use of ethanol as a fuel and explain why it can be called a renewable resource

  • Ethanol can combust in the presence of oxygen to produce carbon dioxide and water:
  • The presence of oxygen in the ethanol molecule means that combustion is almost always complete, unlike the combustion of many hydrocarbons, and no carbon or carbon monoxide is produced.
  • Ethanol is readily combustible and easily transportable, making it a possible alternative fuel for vehicles.
  • Ethanol can be produced from the glucose in plant material, which has been created from carbon dioxide and water through photosynthesis.
  • When glucose is fermented and ethanol is combusted, the carbon dioxide and water produced can be converted back into glucose by plants, beginning the process over again.
  • Because the production and combustion of ethanol form a cycle, it can be considered a renewable resource:

The cycle of the production and combustion of ethanol

  • Considerable amounts of energy are required in the production of crops to produce glucose and in the distillation of pure ethanol.
  • In order for ethanol to be a truly renewable resource, this energy would have to come from a renewable resource, such as solar or wind energy.

Easychem - Ethanol as a Fuel