Every year, we hear more about global warming and greenhouse gasses. We know one of the biggest causes of our environmental issues is pollution. While it can be hard to balance owning a fleet with being conscious of your environmental impact, there are a few small changes you can make to reduce your footprint.
Ethanol products can be a vital part of your sustainability plan. But why invest in them? Here are a few of the biggest benefits.
Before we dive into the benefits, it’s important to define ethanol and understand how it’s made. Ethanol, sometimes referred to as “grain alcohol” or “ethyl alcohol,” is a renewable fuel made from biomass (various plant materials like grass and algae).
To make ethanol, we have to start with a biomass feedstock. Biomass feedstocks are alternatives to fossil fuel resources and can include agricultural residues, crop wastes, urban wood waste, grains, food and beverage waste, and more. The material will be collected and taken to an ethanol production facility.
The vast majority of ethanol made in the United States is produced through dry milling. Grain kernels are ground up and combined with water to make a “mash.” Then, enzymes are added to produce sugar from the starch. The mash is cooked, cooled, and transferred to fermenters, where yeast is added.
The mixture will ferment, leaving the “beer” to be separated from the “stillage.” From there, the ethanol (the “beer” from before) is distilled and dehydrated before being blended with a denaturant like gasoline. Then, the ethanol gets shipped!
A small percentage of our ethanol is produced through wet milling. During this process, the grain is soaked to separate it into its basic components. After it’s been steeped, the mixture is sent through grinders to separate the corn germ, fiber, gluten, and starch components. The starch will then be fermented into ethanol!
Ethanol fuel can come in different blends depending on the ratio of ethanol to gasoline. The most common blends today are E10 (containing 10% ethanol) and E85 (containing 85% ethanol).
Benefits of Ethanol
Even outside of the trucking industry, the general public has strong feelings about sustainability and eco-friendliness. Recently, a poll conducted by the Renewable Fuels Association revealed that 65% of respondents support the Renewable Fuel Standard. The poll also found that the majority of respondents indicated positivity toward ethanol overall as an eco-friendly fuel.
RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper summarizes the poll’s findings perfectly: “Overall, this survey is a strong indication that consumers understand and appreciate the environmental advantages, energy security benefits, and affordability that ethanol offers.”
The evidence is clear: ethanol is infinitely more eco-friendly than standard non-ethanol gasoline. Just in 2021, the use of ethanol reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 54 million metric tons. That’s the equivalent of removing 12 million cars from the road for a whole year!
Grain-based ethanol has been shown to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by around 50% compared to regular gasoline, and corn ethanol isn’t far behind (reducing emissions by around 46% compared to regular gas). In the coming years, new technology hopes to improve that reduction to a stunning 70%!
Ethanol is largely considered “green” because it’s produced from natural materials, but the environmental benefits go even further. As the grain, corn, or biomass grows, it absorbs carbon dioxide in the air. You might already be investing in carbon offsets to fund projects that pull carbon from the air; using ethanol for your fleet can help reduce those carbon levels even further.
Better Vehicle Performance
Gasoline with ethanol can help your fleet go further without costing extra. Your fuel economy is virtually guaranteed to improve with ethanol fuel versus traditional gasoline, but the level of improvement will depend upon the energy difference in the blend you’re using.
Additionally, ethanol has a higher octane number than regular gasoline. The more octane your fuel has, the better your vehicle’s performance and power will be. When ethanol is added to standard unleaded gasoline, it can add two to three points of octane.
Ethanol has a high concentration of oxygen, which helps it to burn more cleanly than traditional gasoline. It also burns cooler than gasoline, which can prevent engine valve burnout and help your vehicles perform well for longer. Finally, ethanol can help keep your fuel injector clean, further improving the efficiency of your system.
The United States gets a significant portion of its crude oil from other countries, it’s important to work toward energy independence as soon as possible. Ethanol will be a vital tool in this transition. In fact, it’s already proving its worth; in 2021, the use of ethanol in the United States’s fuel supply reduced the import of crude oil by more than 530 million barrels.
Importing oil comes with more expenses than just the price of the oil itself. Our country must also deal with oil-related defense expenditures, subsidies and tax incentives, and the economic effects of supply chain disruptions and inflation. When we can make our own ethanol at home, though, we support local jobs and rely less on other countries for our fuel.
Gas prices impact us all, whether you’re driving with your fleet or are simply running to the grocery store. Another big benefit of ethanol is its cost-effectiveness when compared to traditional fuel. Since ethanol is produced from corn or grain, it can be made in nearly every country around the world, helping to keep costs low and eliminating the need for imports.
Safe in Your Vehicles
Even though ethanol is commonplace, many drivers still wonder if it’s safe to use ethanol in their cars. Good news: all vehicles built since 2001 can run on fuels with up to 15% ethanol, making up over 90% of cars on the road today. If you want to adopt ethanol products for your fleet, you likely won’t have to make any changes to your vehicles.
About Guttman Renewables
Guttman Renewables is dedicated to maintaining the highest environmental standards. Our ethanol products are designed to keep fleets on the road while minimizing your impact on the planet. If you need an alternative to petroleum diesel, we also offer biodiesel products that can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by over 70%.
Our team is not only dedicated to protecting the environment; we’re also committed to helping you move your business closer to its goals. Every customer is assigned their own Guttman representative, who will learn all about your company and its unique needs. If you ever have a question or concern, you can rest easy knowing you have a devoted contact at Guttman to help you.
Now is the time to invest in your fleet by investing in renewables. Contact Guttman Renewables today to learn more about all of our products and services.