Ethanol oil is a fuel that utilizes varying percentages of ethanol biofuel in oil to decrease the cost and environmental impact of normal fossil-fuels. As the price of foreign oil increases, scientists seek new sources of fuel to ease the burden and to lower prices. Ethanol may be that solution. Some countries, such as Brazil, have already greatly reduced their dependence on foreign oil through the use of ethanol oil.
Ethanol fuel is a biofuel, meaning that it can be produced from recently-living organic matter. Fossil fuel, on the other hand, can only be produced from the decomposed matter left by organisms that died millions of years ago. The supply of fossil fuel is limited and dwindling fast as countless drivers take to the roads each day, burning fuel. Biofuel can be produced from crops that are grown on a yearly basis, and can be mixed with oil in varying quantities to make cleaner fuels that decrease the need for fossil fuels.
The production of ethanol oil begins in high-sugar or high-starch crops, such as sugarcane or corn. Enzymes break down starch into sugar. Yeast fermentation produces alcohol from the sugar. This is distilled and dried. Once ready, it is added to oil or oil is added to it, depending on the makeup of the fuel mixture.
The use of ethanol oil has many benefits. It burns much cleaner than fossil fuels, and is likely to contribute less to problems such as global warming and habitat destruction. It is also cheaper to produce; its production is very similar to that of most alcoholic beverages. Many nations are beginning to use ethanol oil in an attempt to reduce their dependence on foreign oil. In Brazil, at least, where sugarcane crops are being used to produce ethanol, it is working.
As with most good things, ethanol oil has a host of features that make some people suspicious of its worth. While it is cleaner, ethanol fuel is less efficient than normal fossil fuels, as it burns more quickly. Therefore, a greater volume of fuel is necessary for the same output of energy. The distillation process takes a great amount of heat, and that heat is often provided by burning fossil fuels. This leads many to question if using ethanol is really that much cleaner.
Oil companies have been mixing ethanol with fossil fuels for years, as it increases the octane of the fuel. Normally, however, only about 10% of the fuel mix is ethanol. In an attempt to make a more complete transfer to ethanol oil, some places have begun selling E85, which is 85% ethanol. As more efficient, cleaner ways of producing ethanol and other biofuels are being developed, perhaps more will follow the trend and work toward a cheaper, cleaner tomorrow.