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Bioethanol: Sugar as fuel, may solve and create some problems

Bioethanol is a type of biofuel produced from the fermentation of plant materials such as corn, sugar cane and grain.

By nayanikaphukan
New Update
Bioethanol pros and cons

Bioethanol is a type of biofuel produced from the fermentation of plant materials such as corn, sugar cane and grain. It is a renewable source of energy that can be used as fuel for vehicles or in other applications where conventional fossil fuels are used.

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Courtesy: Flickr

The process of producing bio-ethanol involves breaking down the sugar in the plant materials into ethanol through the action of yeast or other microorganisms. The result of bio-ethanol is a clear, colourless liquid that can be blended with gasoline to reduce emissions and increase energy efficiency.

Bioethanol is considered a clean fuel because of its low CO2 emission and low greenhouse gas emission. 

Problems and concerns of bioethanol

According to a study called ‘Development in Bioethanol’, the amount of cultivable land needed for growing crops for producing a large amount of fuel is enormous. This has a great impact on the biodiversity of our environment as natural habitats are being overrun including forests. 

Another study states that about 95% of bioethanol produced in the world is from agricultural products. A major problem with the production of bioethanol is the availability of raw materials as it depends on the starch and sugar content of the biomass employed. Therefore, the manufacture of bioethanol depends on the availability of raw materials. Which further depends on the season and locations, hence also affects the cost of bioethanol production.

The production of bioethanol requires significant amounts of energy, such as in the farming, processing, and transportation of feedstocks. This can further limit its overall energy balance.

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Bio Ethanol on the Way, Salt EndEast Riding of Yorkshire, England | Courtesy: Andy Beecroft/Bio Ethanol on the Way via wikicommons

Water use: Bio-ethanol production can also require significant amounts of water, which can strain local water resources and ecosystems. Bio-ethanol production can compete with food production for the same agricultural resources, which can increase food prices and impact food security in some regions.

Alternative source of bioethanol

Recently in January 2023, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Housing and Urban Affairs, inaugurated a bio-refinery unit for producing bioethanol from bamboo. Since, India cannot use sugarcane for the production of bioethanol as it will compete with the food demands. This bioethanol production from bamboo is seen as a step towards renewable sustainable energy production.

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