Ethanol may be best known as the alcohol found in alcoholic beverages and spirits but is also used as fuel and for other industrial purposes. Pure ethanol can be sold into the alcohol beverage market or mixed with a small percentage of gasoline and sold as a transportation fuel.
Where does ethanol come from?
Ethanol can be produced from a variety of renewable plant material such as switch grass, barley, corn, sugarcane, wheat, cellulose and other biomass. Ethanol production happens in three stages: fermentation, distillation and dehydration. First, the selected biomass is mixed with enzymes and yeast that ferment the sugars of the biomass into ethanol. Next, this initial ethanol undergoes a process called distillation to remove impurities leftover from the fermentation process. And finally, any water remaining in the distilled ethanol is dehydrated so that the final ethanol product is 100 percent ethanol. Distillers grains are a byproduct of ethanol production.
What is ethanol used for?
Ethanol is used primarily as a transportation fuel in Brazil and the United States. Virtually all gasoline sold in the United States is a blend of 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol. Aemetis operates a 55 million gallon per year facility in Keyes, California that manufactures renewable ethanol for use as a transportation fuel. Aemetis scientists created the Ambient Temperature Starch/Cellulose Hydrolysis (ATSCH) process to produce renewable ethanol from renewable non-food feedstock.