Alcohols/Ethanol

The most popular octane enhancing alcohol is ethanol. Ethanol is produced by fermenting starch based agricultural products, particularly corn in the United States. In Europe the preferred starch based agricultural product is wheat, while in South America it is sugarcane. Ethanol does not have the same groundwater pollution issues as MTBE.  However, ethanol fuels do  increase volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from gasoline. The fact that ethanol requires agricultural products for production makes it a nonviable option as a gasoline substitute, but a good alternative as an octane enhancer nonetheless. Other alcohols can be used to increase octane rating are methanol and tertiary-butyl alcohol (TBA). However, neither are commonly used due to environmental issues and toxicity.


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