While ethanol can be derived from a variety of different sources, one that is becoming increasingly popular is sugar ethanol, or alcohol derived from sugar cane or sugar beets. A very large portion of this substance is currently being produced in Brazil, as the country has a climate perfectly suited to production of this crop. It can be used as a fuel additive to gasoline to reduce emissions from vehicles, and is often used in laboratory work which requires high heat applications, as the alcohol burns very hot in comparison to other fuels.
Currently in the United States, ethanol derived from starches is currently more cost-effective, as there are considerable subsidies on the corn crop. Because of this, some debate has been raised on whether it is cost-effective or moral to turn all of this food into fuel for businesses and travel.
When being used as fuel for automobiles, ethanol may be used by itself in ethanol-only engines, or in combination with other fuels such as diesel or gasoline. Flex-fuel engines are engines which are designed to run on more than one different type of fuel; they are able to run from 100% gasoline to 100% ethanol, and anything in between depending on what is available. This makes them a highly practical choice for future cars as it allows the use of bio-fuels as well as gasoline when either one may be in limited supply.
Outside of fuel for vehicles, however, sugar ethanol has a large variety of applications. It is a common ingredient in solvents and can be used to clean and disinfect in both home and industrial settings. It is also the psychoactive ingredient in alcoholic beverages derived from sugar, namely rum and wine, but is chemically similar to all alcoholic beverages.
Perhaps the most common use of sugar ethanol today is actually in laboratories, used on a daily basis as fuel for small stoves and burners used to heat solutions for experiments. This type of burner typically creates a higher heat than can electric, without the dangerous fumes or gases associated with the indoor usage of propane, butane, or other gases. As such, the ethanol burner has gained a lot of popularity within the scientific community for use in nearly all scientific fields, but most notably chemistry and physics.Sponsors: