Ethanol - Gas of the Future
High gas prices always provide consumers with something to complain
about. When payments at the pump continue to be more
burdensome, due to the country's reliance on foreign
oil, more and more research is directed to the
production of ethanol as a replacement.
Ethanol is classified as a form of renewable energy
and part of a larger category of alternative energies
know as biofuels. By producing and using larger
amounts of these biofuels, including ethanol, we can not
only reduce the cost of gasoline used for
trans- portation, but also create a healthier environment,
since ethanol does not emit the same harmful chemicals
into the air as fossil
Currently, there are over 80 ethanol plants in the United States, with
construction being done on many more. These plants are
now in high demand, as ethanol is being considered as an
alternative for gasoline.
The process used to create ethanol from biomass is not
complicated, and may save consumers major money at the
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As this technique
is researched further and perfected, ethanol could
become a standard in the transportation industry.
First, large amounts of biomass are needed to start the process of
ethanol production. Sugars and starches are used
for this process, and some of the most popular
ingredients include corn, waste paper, trees and
grasses, industrial waste, and plant fiber.
In some other countries, material such as sugar cane is also used.
Anything that can be fermented and is made of sugars and
starches is a viable material to use for the biomass
needed to create ethanol.
Next, yeast and bacteria are used to ferment the biomass product.
This is one of the oldest techniques known to man, as it
was used in ancient days (and still is today) for
creating wine. In wine, the result is an alcoholic drink
product. In biomass, the yeast and bacteria produce
ethanol, which is also a form of alcohol in very high
Further processing of the ethanol produced by this technology results in
a product that can be used as an alternative to
As technology continues to progress, ethanol can be more easily made even
from low-value plant materials such as sawdust
and cornstalks. This could provide the United
States, as well as other countries in the world, with a
very inexpensive form of energy.
Ethanol is the gas of the future, and hopefully as the world sees
its benefits, it will be produced in larger quantities
to help keep the environment clean.