The Production Of Ethanol And Why It’s Called A Renewable Fuel

The Production Of Ethanol And Why It’s Called A Renewable Fuel

How We Produce Ethanol

Ethanol is ethyl alcohol and it’s the same substance that can be found in alcoholic beverages. As a biofuel, ethanol is merely used as an additive for gasoline, however, there are also automotives that can run entirely on it. When it comes to the production of ethanol, corn is a common raw material and it’s what PRF also uses for its production plant. An alternative to corn is sugarcane, which is most often found in the ethanol fuel production industry of Brazil.

World Ethanol Production

As a gasoline type fuel, world ethanol production has increased from 4.5×109 U.S. gallons in the year 2000, to 1.4×1010 U.S. gallons in 2007. In 2008, ethanol held a market share of 5.4% of all global gasoline type fuels.

Patriot Renewable Fuels’ Ethanol

We use nothing but state-of-the-art technology to produce high-octane ethanol fuel from corn. The majority of our ethanol comes from a dry milling process. A smaller percentage is gained through wet milling.

Dry Milling

The first step of dry milling is to grind corn. Then water is added, which together with the corn meal forms a thick mash. In order to break down the contained starch into sugar, enzymes are added. After a cooking and cooling process, yeast is added to the mixture with the objective to turn the sugar into alcohol (fermentation). As a last step, we separate ethanol through distillation and dehydration.

Wet Milling

The first step of wet milling is to soak the corn and separate it into its components. When ready, the sludge is processed in multiple grinders to separate the corn germ from the husk. The next step is to separate the starch, which is then fermented into alcohol by adding yeast. As with dry milling, pure ethanol is won through distillation followed by dehydration.

Cellulosic Ethanol

In conventional ethanol production, starch is first broken down into sugar, which is then fermented into alcohol. The majority of the globally used ethanol is produced that way. Cellulosic ethanol is a second-generation biofuel. It’s the fermentation product of cellulose, so the building material of plants. Cellulose is also made up of sugar, but it’s not digestible and we therefore refer to it as fiber. In contrast to first-generation biofuel made from edible feedstock, cellulosic ethanol can be produced by using wood, grass and other non-edible plant parts. The only problem with cellulosic ethanol is that the efficiency of the biofuel production process is lower than what can be achieved for first-generation fuels.

wood and grass

Why Ethanol Is Called A Renewable Fuel

Ethanol is called a renewable fuel, because it’s a form of renewable energy. Corn, sugarcane, potatoes, hemp and other crops suitable for its production can be grown and re-grown without depleting natural resources. The impact of cellulosic ethanol on our food chain is smaller than biofuel from first-generation feedstock and can even be produced from waste products that accrue in agriculture.

Ethanol And Its Uses

What is ethanol alcohol used for?

  • Ethanol can be used as an additive for alcoholic beverages and in food products to extract and concentrate flavors and aromas.
  • Ethanol is also contained in perfumes, deodorants, and other cosmetics.
  • Ethanol is an important part of many antiseptics and antibacterial soaps

There are many more ethanol alcohol uses, which underlines the substance’s versatility.

The Future Of Ethanol

Wind back a couple of years and you will find supporters convinced that ethanol will one day make us independent from oil sourced from the Middle East. This still remains a promising idea until today, however, the relatively new biofuel still needs to be adopted by most industries. Thanks to new technologies, investors look ahead with optimism and hope that one day ethanol will replace petroleum as the primary fuel with which we satisfy the energy demand of our planet.

Unfortunately and partly due to the financial crisis in late 2008, the transition to higher ethanol gasoline blends has slowed down in recent years. E10 is widely known, but blends containing as much as 85% ethanol remain a very rare occurrence. As long as prices for fossil fuels are kept at an artificially low price and with the fracking boom that came up in the U.S., ethanol has a long way to go.