Bioethanol - a very special compound

C2H5OH - that is the chemical formula for the compound which, colloquially, is just called "alcohol". To most people it is also known as ethyl alcohol or spirits of wine. It bears the suffix "bio" because it is produced by fermenting biomass that contains sugar and starch - bioethanol is therefore a natural product.
Globally, a total of more than 117 million m³ of bioethanol were produced in 2016. However, most of it is neither consumed as beverage alcohol nor used as either medicinal or industrial alcohol (glass cleaner, cleaning agents) but has ended up as fuel in the tanks of motor vehicles for some years now. In 2016, it was 99.3 million m³ - over 80% of the total world production. World leader in the production of bioethanol is the USA, followed by Brazil.

Bioethanol as an alternative to fossil fuels

There is a lot to be said for bioethanol as an alternative fuel. The following are the most important advantages:
  • Climate protection through fewer greenhouse gas emissions:
    Renewable energy sources such as bioethanol mean that fewer greenhouse gases are produced. Apart from the energy needed to manufacture it, sustainably produced bioethanol, produced from regenerative raw materials, is CO2-neutral. The CO2 released when bioethanol combusts was originally absorbed by photosynthesis by the plants from which it is manufactured as they grew. The highly efficient production facilities reduce CO2 emissions by more than 70% across the whole value-added chain compared to fossil fuel.
  • Greater security of supply and less dependence on imports:
    Not only international political tensions but also the developments on the oil markets are projecting this important advantage of bioethanol more and more into the fore: the reserves of many "reliable" oil-producing countries - e.g. EU member states - are dwindling and demand has to be met increasingly from politically less stable regions. It is also to be expected that crude oil exploitation will become still more difficult and costly in the future.
  • Conservation of fossil resources:
    Each litre of bioethanol produced from regenerative raw materials means a similar saving in fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel produced from finite resources.
  • Innovative new industry offering important potential for rural areas:
    The German economy and the public purse benefit from the emergence of a new domestic bioethanol industry through the value added, new jobs and tax revenues it creates. It also opens up new outlets for farmers.
  • More efficient than conventional fuels:
    Bioethanol scores here thanks to its beneficial chemical properties. It has a considerably higher octane rating than petrol, is virtually free of sulphur and is biologically degradable.

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