Various forms of fossil fuels such as petroleum have been in use for many years in industries and domestic applications. With fossil fuels being non-renewable, most of the industries are now focusing on better, efficient and renewable alternatives such as biofuels. Moreover, increased use of fossil fuels has contributed to serious environmental issues such as global warming and pollution. Renewable ethanol biofuels are increasingly becoming popular in day-to-day applications and are considered to be the possible alternative fuels for the future.
What is Bioethanol?
Bioethanol is a natural fuel (ethyl alcohol) produced from biomass plants through sugar fermentation process and mostly used as a substitute for fossil fuels. A variety of plants such as wheat crops, reed canary grass, corn and sorghum plants are specifically grown for bioethanol fuel production. Solid waste such as those found in urban towns and farms can also be used to produce bioethanol. Since it is biodegradable and low in toxicity, bioethanol is less considered as a cause of environmental pollution. Ethanol can also be blended with gasoline to reduce polluting emissions caused by gasoline.
Bioethanol is naturally produced from natural plant biomass containing sugar and starch mainly through a fermentation process. Other manufacturing methods involve chemically reacting ethylene with steam. Ethanol, the main component of biofuels, is produced from plant biomass through the processes of sugar fermentation and hydrolysis. The process involves treating a biomass waste with acids or enzymes to open up the complex mixture of carbohydrate polymers (cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin) in the plant feedstock. The broken down sucrose sugar is then converted into ethanol through a 3-4 days fermentation process at a temperature of between 250C and 300C.
Sugars extraction from biomass may involve dilute acid hydrolysis, concentrated acid hydrolysis or enzymatic hydrolysis method. Ethanol production from other sources such as corn involves wet or dry milling process. Although growing biofuel crops is always a challenge since the supply does not satisfy the demand for fuel. Because ethanol produced through fermentation process contains a significant quantity of water, fractional distillation process is used to condense and separate ethanol from water. The fuel is then prepared and packaged for consumption markets such as the United States and Brazil.
Various Uses of Bioethanol
- Efficient Green Energy: Bioethanol is a clean energy and its combustion does not require a chimney, shaft or duct. Burning of bioethanol fuel is efficient, eco-friendly and can be used to keep the heat in a room.
- Beautiful Decorative Flames: Modern fireplaces have become popular than ever in home interior decor, thanks to bioethanol. You can now enjoy beautiful and lively orange flames at home without a chimney, even in rental apartments.
- Renewable Energy: Ethanol, the main component of bioethanol, is produced from natural products such as feedstocks and therefore renewable, unlike fossil fuels.
- Reduction of Greenhouse Gases: Bioethanol can be blended with other conventional fuels to reduce the net emissions of greenhouse gases, therefore keeping the environment clean and less polluted.