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Ethanol Introduction



Ethanol is a domestically produced, premium liquid automotive fuel made from renewable crop grains and plants. In the U.S., fuel ethanol is made mainly from corn via industrial fermentation, while in other countries such as Brazil and India, ethanol is made from sugar cane via a similar fermentation process. Ethanol, technically referred to as ethyl alcohol, is the same alcohol that makes up beer, wine, and liquor, which people have been making via fermentation for centuries. Ethanol had been primarily used throughout the 19th century as a beverage and an industrial solvent. Ethanol's first use as an automotive fuel was in 1908 when Henry Ford designed the Model T to run on either ethanol or gasoline. However, the U.S. ethanol program, which promoted the use of agricultural crops to produce renewable fuels in the '30's and 40's, could not sustain itself with the availability of abundant, low cost petroleum. Today, fuel ethanol is blended with gasoline at the 10% level to reduce toxic tailpipe and ozone forming emissions, to increase octane levels in gasoline, and to extend gasoline volume supplies. Fuel ethanol is a commodity product sold in unbranded form to gasoline refiners and gasoline terminals, who blend it with conventional and reformulated gasoline and sell it in the retail market as an "oxygenated fuel" or as an "octane-enhanced gasoline."

Ethanol and biofuels are fuels of the future. These fuels are gentle on the environment. They are fuels that can be renewed year after year and fuels that can expand our farm economy. These fuels are made right here in America so they can't be threatened by any foreign power."
--- President George W. Bush, Farm Journal Forum 2001

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