Ethanol Fuel Advantages and Disadvantages to Take Note Of
There is now a debate over the use of alternative fuel sources, and one of the most controversial alternative fuel options is ethanol fuel.
Ethanol fuel is an alcohol fuel derived from grains and other plant-based materials. Production of ethanol fuel began in the 1970s as a supplement to petroleum. Lately, environmental protection agencies have been promoting the use of ethanol fuel, which was responded to negatively by some experts who highlight the disadvantages of ethanol fuel.
So before you decide to make the big switch, it pays to be informed about ethanol fuel advantages and disadvantages.
Pros of Ethanol Fuel
The biggest advantage of using ethanol fuel for your car is that it is renewable. One of the biggest problems faced by the industrial revolution is the long-term shortage of petroleum and petroleum products.
According to experts, there will come a time when there will not be enough oil and petroleum to sustain the needs of the world. The decrease in oil supply has also led to the continuous increase in oil prices worldwide. Ethanol fuel does not and will not face the same problem.
Aside from that, ethanol fuel can be domestically produced. Since it is derived from grains, it can be produced in any place where grains grow abundantly. In the US, ethanol fuel is mainly produced using corn, but there are other sources of ethanol, such as sugar cane, which is used in Brazil. This means that as ethanol fuel becomes more widely distributed, it will reduce the country’s dependence on imported oil.
But perhaps the most important of all the advantages of ethanol fuel is that it is a clean-burning fuel, unlike petroleum. Cars that use ethanol fuel or e85 produce fewer toxic emissions that can harm the environment, unlike petroleum, which emits lead and benzene when burned. The absence of toxic emissions will help reduce the amount of greenhouse gases and ozone that are wreaking havoc in the environment.
Cons of Ethanol Fuel
The organic nature of ethanol fuel, however, is both an advantage and a disadvantage. In order to produce enough grains, corn, or sugar cane to produce enough ethanol fuel, farmers will have to produce double the amount of those crops or restrict the amount of crops available for other uses. This may cause a shortage on other grain products, which may lead to increased prices. To add to the challenge of producing more crops, grain production (especially corn production) is usually laborious and farmers also have to deal with various problems such as bad weather, insect damage, and droughts.
On top of that, one of the biggest disadvantages of ethanol fuel is its corrosive nature. Ethanol can easily absorb water as well as dirt, and this usually causes damage and corrosion inside the engine as the dirt builds up.
Aside from that, ethanol is also not as efficient as gasoline. It does burn cleaner, but you do need to fill up more often as it would take you more ethanol than gasoline to drive the same distance. One further disadvantage is that you probably need to drive further to find a gas station that offers e85 ethanol fuel.
What about Ethanol Pollution?
It is general knowledge that plant-based ethanol fuel burns cleaner than gasoline, but in the discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of ethanol fuel, you will most likely discover that ethanol fuel can also cause pollution. So why is it a recommended fuel alternative?
It is important to understand that ethanol improves the quality of air because it reduces the amount of hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide, which are emitted in great amounts by traditional gasoline. However, ethanol fuel also releases certain pollutants such as aldehydes and peroxyacyl nitrates.
According to scientists, aldehydes can mostly react with chemicals usually found in urban atmospheres. Peroxyacyl nitrates or PAN, on the other hand, are created from a chemical reaction caused by aldehydes. Once created, PAN can only stay in the air if the temperature is right and can only do so for a certain number of days. Scientists say that PAN stays in the air longer when it is cold.
When discussing ethanol fuel advantages and disadvantages, it is important to keep an objective view on the matter. Ethanol is not a perfect alternative fuel, but the important thing in choosing the right fuel to use for your vehicles is to choose the one with the least consequences and negative effects.