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March 20, 2018  |  Login
Ethanol refers to ethyl alcohol, which can be used as a fuel. Ethanol fuel can be derived from the starches and sugars in many common crops like corn and sugarcane, and is considered to be a potential alternative to gasoline. Some cars currently run on ethanol or ethanol-gasoline mixtures (such as the common E85, which uses up to 85% ethanol) but most fueling stations do not offer ethanol. Ethanol-based fuels are typically cheaper than standard gasoline, and their lifecycle emissions (i.e. from when the crop is grown until it is released as engine exhaust) are lower than those of gasoline. But due to its lower energy content, ethanol has a lower fuel economy than gasoline.

Ethanol has proven very controversial in the search for alternative sources of energy. Currently there is no definitive answer as to whether ethanol will prove to be a viable alternative energy source. Studies indicate that the use of biofuels such as ethanol can help reduce overall harmful emissions by up to 20%. But the manufacture of U.S. ethanol, which is made from corn, takes a large amount of food crop out of production, raising prices worldwide and hurting efforts to fight hunger.  Stay informed about ethanol and other alternative fuels as they develop, and look for the most efficient option when it comes time to buy your next car.

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Check out ecomii's Car blog.

Visit the Union of Concerned Scientists for information on vehicle emissions and ethanol.

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