Ethanol - a very special compound
OH - that is the chemical formula for ethanol, colloquially known as alcohol, ethyl alcohol or spirits of wine. It is sometimes called bioethanol because it is produced by fermenting biomass that contains sugar and starch - ethanol is therefore a natural product.
Globally, a total of more than 128 Mio. m³ of ethanol were produced in 2019. The majority of it has been used as fuel for decades. In 2019, it was 85% of the total world production. Other areas of application include the beverage, food and pharmaceutical industries. World leader in the production of ethanol are the USA, followed by Brazil.
Renewable ethanol as an alternative to fossil fuels
Here are the most important advantages:
- Climate protection: fewer greenhouse gas, NOx and particulate matter emissions: Renewable energy sources such as ethanol mean that fewer greenhouse gases are produced. Ethanol from renewable raw materials is CO2-neutral, except for the energy required for its production. The CO2 released when ethanol 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. With an increasing ethanol content in gasoline, particulate matter and nitrogen oxide emissions decrease as a result.
- Greater security of supply and less dependence on imports: Due to international political tensions and the developments on the oil markets, this advantage is increasingly coming to 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 ethanol produced from regenerative raw materials means a similar saving in fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel produced from finite resources.
- Closing the European protein gap: Europe has to import 70% of the protein feed it needs. For each tonne of ethanol, 1 tonne of GMO-free, high protein animal feed is produced
- Innovative new industry offering important potential for rural areas: The German economy benefits from a domestic ethanol 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: Ethanol scores 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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Fact Sheet bioethanol
Benefits of European bioethanolDownload (PDF, 516.53 KB)