Steps on How to Make Bioethanol

Before you decide to make DIY bioethanol, you have to understand what it is first. So what exactly is bioethanol?

Bioethanol is an alternative fuel that can be used to run cars instead of traditional gasoline. It is produced using the same alcohol found in alcoholic beverages called ethanol or ethyl alcohol.

Ethyl alcohol (C2H5OH) is a clear, colorless liquid that is biodegradable and has low toxicity. When spilled or burned, ethanol causes little pollution as it releases mainly water and carbon dioxide, compared to the hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emitted by traditional gasoline.

By mixing ethanol with gasoline, the mixture becomes oxygenated and can therefore be burned more completely into enough energy to run cars.

Ethanol and bioethanol – What’s the Difference?

Bioethanol is basically ethanol, but the production source and process are different. These are the reasons behind the key "differences between ethanol and bioethanol".

Both ethanol and bioethanol are produced using biological materials or biomass that require sunlight and photosynthesis to grow. These materials include plants, corn, wheat, grass, and so on.

The biomass, which contain a complex blend of carbohydrate polymers, namely cellulose, hemi cellulose, and lignin, must first be converted to sugar by being pre-treated with acids and enzymes to break open the plant structure and reduce the feedstock size. This process breaks down the cellulose and hemi cellulose portions and turns them into sucrose sugar, which, in turn, is fermented into ethanol. For ethanol, the production process ends there.

For bioethanol, however, the production process continues. For ethanol to be used as a fuel, it has to undergo distillation. The resulting ethanol therefore goes on to undergo a hydrolysis process wherein most of the water content of ethanol is extracted from it. The end product is a substance made up of 95% ethanol and 5% water, and is called bioethanol.

Bioethanol can then be safely blended with regular gasoline at various ratios. When ethanol fuel was first introduced, the most common blend consisted of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline and was called e10.

Nowadays, however, there are higher blends of ethanol, such as e85, which contain 85% ethanol and only 15% of gasoline. Due to the greater ethanol content, e85 fuel cannot be used by cars that normally run on gasoline. Bioethanol cars would have to have a flex fuel status before it can use the e85 fuel, since it is largely ethanol.

DIY Ethanol – Is it safe?

Many people are, as a matter of fact, now producing their own bioethanol at home.

Producing bioethanol takes a lot of skill and knowledge in the subject and can be very difficult for inexperienced producers. The process itself can be very dangerous, and the resulting product will, in all likelihood, be of poor quality. Thus, unless you are especially knowledgeable in the process of producing bioethanol, it is best to source out your bioethanol needs from trusted suppliers.

Bioethanol suppliers

Bioethanol is now widely available from several key suppliers of bioethanol fuel and biodiesel all over the world.

For example, GreenField Ethanol Inc. in Ontario, Canada produces fuel ethanol and ethanol-gasoline blends, aside from industrial and beverage alcohol.

Chematur Engineering AB of Sweden, on the other hand, has a department that produces bioethanol through fermentation, yeast recycling, and simultaneous distillation.

Aside from these international sources of bioethanol, there are bioethanol manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, importers, and suppliers in the USA. Price is also not a major issue for those who need bioethanol since the price of alternative fuels are kept low thanks to government subsidies and reduced tax. These are part of the government’s effort to promote the use of cleaner fuels.