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Ethanol: Literature Review - page 4 / 17





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temperature purposes, such as for antifreeze in automobile radiators. (http://www.ethanol.org/)


Using Ethanol in Engines

When the use of ethanol began in 1979 most automobile manufacturers did not even address alcohol fuels. As soon as each manufacturer tested their vehicles, they approved the use of a 10% ethanol blend. Today, all manufacturers approve the use of ethanol and some even recommend ethanol use for environmental reasons.

A number of tests have been done with ethanol in small engines as well. One of them was done at the Lake Area Vo-Tech at Watertown, South Dakota, where they put a lifetime of use on seven different models of small utility equipment. They acquired matched sets of each of the seven models, and ran one on an ethanol blend and the other on an unleaded gasoline. After each test, each motor was torn down for laboratory analysis. The most significant difference was that the ethanol blend engines had slightly fewer carbon deposits.

The Detroit Lakes Technical College at Detroit Lakes, Minnesota studied the "Hydroscopic effects of a marine environment on ethanol blended gasoline", and concluded that the amount of water an ethanol blend will absorb from the atmosphere is minimal, and should not be a concern. (http://www.sdcorn.org/etheng.html) (http://www.ott.doe.gov/biofuels/what are.html)


Ethanol as a Renewable Fuel Source for Fuel Cells

For years, fuel cell technology has offered significant promise as an alternative power source to increase energy efficiency, reduce pollution, and minimize our dependence on imported oil. Fuel cell systems have the potential to power automobiles, buses, homes, small generators, and perhaps someday, even computers. Fuel cell vehicles have twice the energy efficiency of internal combustion engines and are capable of achieving up to 80 mpg, with near zero emissions. However, one challenge has historically stood between fuel cell vehicle technology and its successful commercialization - the storage and supply of hydrogen.

The widespread introduction and use of fuel cell vehicles could have a major impact on improving air quality in urban areas and reducing petroleum consumption. Fuel cell vehicles are driven in large part by environmental regulations requiring "zero" or near-zero emission vehicles in a growing number of regions across the country. Rising concerns with the contribution of fossil fuels to global warming provide added impetus to the search for alternatives to petroleum and the internal combustion engine.

These public policy issues are addressed with renewable fuels such as ethanol. In spark ignition engines, ethanol emits significantly less carbon monoxide and air toxic pollution than gasoline, and therefore reduces the amount of harmful emissions released into the atmosphere. When coupled with the efficiency of a fuel cell, the air quality benefits will be substantially greater.

How a Fuel Cell Works: Fuel cells work by combining hydrogen and oxygen in a chemical reaction to create electricity, without the noise and pollution of conventional engines. In principle, a fuel cell operates like a battery. Unlike a battery,

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