Bio-ethanol is a renewable biofuel based on ethanol, a type of alcoholic beverage mainly used as a car fuel. It's a widely used biofuel the world over and is effective at lowering greenhouse gases when being consumed compared with normal petroleum. Ethanol can be made from common crops such as sugar canes, corn, switchgrass and rapeseed and can be blended with petrol in various amounts.
- Produces less polluting gases
- Boosts jobs in the agriculture industry
- Cleaner burning
- Raises octane levels when blended with petrol
- Doubts over environmental benefits of ethanol production
- Contains two thirds of the energy content compared to petrol
- Not suitable for all cars
- Land used for ethanol porduction
Although bio-ethanol is a pollution reducing fuel, some people were worried about it could do more damage than petrol it would replace. Particularly in the United States of America, where they see ethanol as the major attraction of future fuels, governments push hard to boost ethanol production. But this lead to a few issues.
A study released by a Stanford University professor in 2007 claimed that replacing petrol completely with ethanol could lead to more smog-related deaths in some areas of Los Angeles. Author Mark Jacobson didn't question the belief that ethanol produces less nitrogen oxide than petrol but he argues that it generates more hydrocarbons and they can lead to problems in warmer areas.
Farms in Mexico were reported destroying fields of blue agave, a crop for making potent alcohol used in the production of tequila and replacing it with corn to produce ethanol for the American market. Demand for ethanol in the US has sent corn prices skyrocketing.