Advantages and Disadvantages of Ethanol Fuel

There are many advantages of Ethanol but they don’t come without some significant drawbacks. Ethanol could be one of the next big fuel sources if some technological progress is made in regards to manufacturing.

Ethanol Advantages

  • Produced using biomass which is a renewable energy source.
  • Carbon released during combustion of Ethanol is recaptured during crop production.
  • Can be mixed with other fuels like gasoline and used in current vehicles without modification.
  • Less particulate emissions than other fuels like gasoline.
  • Only produces CO2 and water after combustion eliminating other harmful toxins and greenhouse gases.
  • Advances in celllulosic Ethanol could eliminate food supply/price concerns.

Below is a video outlining many of the benefits of Ethanol.

Ethanol Disadvantages

  • More susceptible to water contamination than conventional fuels.
  • More corrosive than conventional fuels, would require fuel infrastructure changes.
  • Clearing land for Ethanol production could have a greater environment impact than producing it eliminates.
  • Some studies have shown Ethanol requires nearly as much energy to produce than is generated from combustion.
  • If petroleum based pesticides and fertiliziers are used for crop production then the ultimate fuel is still oil based.
  • Using food crops results in negative availability and price fluctuations in global food markets.

Below is a video outlining the Ethanol fuel disadvantages.

Most of the disadvantages of corn and other sugar based Ethanol stems from the use of land and impact on food supply. However, the advantages of cellulosic Ethanol eliminate these concerns. Cellulose is a waste product from crops that are already being grown so there is a large supply available without clearing additional land or removing food from markets. Future technological advances in this area may make Ethanol a much more appealing fuel source with the only concerns being changing the fuel infrastructure and engine technology to support it. It certainly is appealing to have a fuel source that cleans up its environmental pollution after use the way biomass based fuels do.



  1. DougTheBug says:

    What would be better than your suggestion of abandoning ethanol altogether would be to focus on creating NEW motors that are intended to run on E85/Ethanol specifically. Then no issues.

    Just always using pure gasoline is not a long term option.

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