About Ethanol

Beverage & Industrial Use

The chances are that you have used or consumed a product containing renewable ethanol in the past week. While most renewable ethanol produced in Europe needs up being used in your fuel tank, it is also used by many other industrial sectors to produce countless consumer products.

Renewable ethanol for beverage and industrial uses

Significant volumes of renewable ethanol are produced for the beverage and industrial markets from agricultural feedstock, such as grains and sugar beet. Renewable ethanol produced for these industries differs from ethanol for fuel only in its strength, which can vary between 96% and 99.9% and in its purity, depending on the end use. 

Perhaps the best-known end-user of renewable ethanol – after the transport sector – is the drinks industry. Renewable ethanol is used to make many kinds of spirits, such vodka, gin and anisette. 

Ethanol has many useful properties which allow it to be used by a range of different industries:

The ethanol used as an intermediary product by the chemical, pharmaceutical or cosmetics industry is in many cases of the highest and purest possible quality. These are premium markets due to the additional steps in the alcohol production process that are necessary to achieve the required purity. The same high standards and processes apply when alcohol is used for the production of spirit drinks.

Ethanol is a valuable ingredient in the production of:

  • Alcoholic beverages: Spirits and alcohols (e.g. vodka & gin). Neutral alcohol is mixed with water, aromas and flavourings to produce the final product.
  • Food and non-alcoholic beverages: Flavours and aromas. Ethanol is used as a natural product to extract and concentrate flavours and aromas, which are then used by the food & drink industry. No alcohol is contained in the final products.
  • Chemicals: Paints and thermometers. It is widely used as a solvent, and you can find it in many household products, such as the de-icer or anti-freeze you use to clear your car windscreen. Increasingly ethanol is used as a renewable alternative to fossil-based chemicals for creating a large range of products, such as bioplastics.
  • Cosmetics: It is contained in perfumes, deodorants, and other cosmetics.
  • Pharmaceutical: Ethanol also has many medical uses, and can be found in products such as medicines, medical wipes and as an antiseptic in most

    antibacterial hand sanitiser gels.

For more information about the beverage and industrial uses of ethanol, please click here.

Key Facts

  • Ethanol can be found in many household products, such as perfumes, deodorants, paints, thermometers and cosmetics
  • Increasing ethanol is being used to make biochemicals and bioplastics
  • Ethanol can be either denatured or undenatured