Ethanol Science

Benefits to Our Air and Environment 

The use of ethanol-blended fuel helps reduce the environmental impacts of gasoline consumption on our society.

Ten percent ethanol blends reduce carbon monoxide better than any other reformulated gasoline blend - by as much as 25%. Ethanol-blended fuel shows a 35-46% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a 50-60% reduction in fossil energy use.

Ethanol contains 35% oxygen by weight, making it burn more cleanly and completely than gasoline. E85 has the highest oxygen content of any fuel available, making it burn even more cleanly and even more completely than any other fuel.
Ethanol is used in oxygenated and reformulated gasoline (RFG) as set out in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. This standard requires an oxygenate, like ethanol, to be added to gasoline to help it burn more completely. Reformulated gasoline or oxygenated gasoline is required in areas that violate carbon monoxide and/or ozone quality standards.

Ethanol-blended fuels reduce vehicular emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other gases that contribute to global warming. Argonne National Laboratory has determined that for every gallon of gasoline replaced by ethanol, greenhouse gases are reduced by 30 percent. This reduction is due, in part, to the "carbon cycle," whereby much of the carbon dioxide released when ethanol-blended fuels are used is reabsorbed by biomass plants, like corn, during growth. These biomass plants provide the feedstocks for ethanol production.

The Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory reports that in 2003, ethanol use in the United States reduced the CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 5.7 million tons, equal to removing the annual emissions of more than 853,000 cars from the road!

Ethanol is highly biodegradable, making it safer for the environment. A report issued by the California Environmental Protection Agency in 1999 concluded "considering the relative toxicity of ethanol, MTBE and their degradation products suggests that the direct effects of ethanol (if any public exposure were to occur) would be substantially less severe than the effects of MTBE." (source: Potential Health Risks of Ethanol in Gasoline, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, California Environmental Protection Agency, December 1999).

The CalEPA report also concludes: "Predictions of ethanol dispersion and biodegradation in the environment indicate that ethanol is unlikely to occur in drinking water at levels having any toxicological significance." i.e. ethanol does not contaminate drinking water.

Sources: Argonne National Laboratory, CA Environmental Protection Agency, American Coalition for Ethanol

© Copyright 2015 Western New York Energy. All Rights Reserved.