About Ethanol

What Is Renewable Ethanol?

Ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol or alcohol, is a volatile, flammable, colourless liquid with the molecular formula C2H5OH. Ethanol is also commonly referred to as neutral alcohol or neutral spirit in certain countries. ‘Renewable ethanol’ is produced from agricultural raw materials, such as cereals and sugar beet, as well as from waste and residues such as straw; ‘synthetic ethanol’ is produced as a derivative from ethylene production using fossil-based raw materials.

What is ethanol used for?

The EU ethanol market can be broadly split into three segments:

  • Fuel: ethanol used as an additive in petrol (e.g. E5, E10) or as an alternative fuel (e.g. E85, ED95);
  • Potable: ethanol used to produce spirit drinks (e.g. vodka, gin), as a food additive (e.g. desserts), for the extraction of aromas, for food preservation and the production of white vinegar;
  • Industrial: ethanol used as a renewable chemical component in various products (e.g. cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, solvents, paints and de-icing fluids) as well as a renewable raw material for bio-based chemical production (e.g. bio-ethylene).

Key Facts

  • Ethanol, is a colorless liquid with an alcoholic content ranging from 80%-99.9%
  • In Europe, ethanol is normally produced from agricultural sources such wheat, maize, barley, rye, triticale, and sugar beets
  • Advanced ethanol is considered an advanced biofuel and is produced by using agricultural residues such as straw, non-food ligno-cellulosic materials and waste
  • Ethanol is used in a wide-range of products such as biochemicals, bioplastics, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial products (solvents, paint) and, increasingly, as a biofuel