What Are Some Pros and Cons of Ethanol?


Quick Answer

While ethanol produces less CO2 than gasoline and has the potential to offset consumption of conventional fossil fuels, ethanol also contains less energy and provides less power than conventional gasoline and diesel fuels. Ethanol may break down rubber seals and cause damage to older engines, and vehicles powered by fuel mixtures that contain large quantities of ethanol suffer reduced fuel economy.

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Full Answer

Ethanol is an alternative fuel created from crops such as grain, corn or sugar cane. Ethanol production creates greater demand for these crops, which may benefit farmer and agricultural operations. In addition to ethanol, the natural by-products created by ethanol crops provide the means to create a wide range of bio-fuels. Ethanol provides a greater degree of energy independence and the means to somewhat offset the environmental damaged caused by engine emissions.

As of 2015, most cars and trucks found in the United States are flexible-fuel vehicles designed to run on a mixture of ethanol and conventional gasoline. These blends typically consist of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline. Limiting factors for more widespread ethanol use include a lack of production facilities and fueling stations. Fuel mixtures that contain more than 15 percent ethanol are not approved for use in vehicles manufactured before 2001 and may cause harm to engine components.

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