Summarise the use of ethanol as an alternative fuel source, evaluating the success of current usage and assess its potential use as an alternative fuel.

Essay by loodleHigh School, 12th gradeA-, May 2009

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Bio-ethanol is manufactured from fermenting starch, wheat and sugar cane. Ethanol is also made from the hydration of ethylene from petroleum, though the majority of ethanol is produced by fermentation. It is considered an alternative fuel source as it is regarded to be renewable and more beneficial to the environment. As a car fuel ethanol is blended with petrol in different concentrations.

In cars, carbon monoxide is produced from the incomplete combustion of petroleum. By adding ethanol which has 35% oxygen the combustion is more complete and there for reducing the amount of carbon monoxide. Within Australia, studies have shown that the effects of 10% ethanol have decreased the amount of carbon monoxide emissions.

In Brazil 10% of the energy used is provided from ethanol. In car fuel the mix of ethanol and petrol is about 85% ethanol with only about 15% petrol but in Australia fuels that contain ethanol are mainly about 10% ethanol and 90% petrol.

Though a 85% ethanol blend has started being used in Australia but is not available at all petrol stations. As a car fuel it is blended with petrol to decrease how fast petrol burns, extend petrol reserves and to reduce green house gas emissions. For Brazil the use of ethanol as a car fuel has been very successful as it has a very large starch industry. It is also beneficial to the country economically because the high concentration use of ethanol has replaced expensive oil imports with locally produced fuels.

Australia has previously avoided E10 as an alternative fuel. Many people choose to not use ethanol to avoid the possible damage it can do to engines not designed for it. That is; the deterioration of rubber and plastic components in the fuel system. Also redesigning car engines are expensive, however newer cars...