What exactly is Ethanol?
Ethanol is a clean-burning, high-octane motor fuel that is produced by the fermentation of plant sugars. It is made from renewable energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 90%.
Ethanol has been produced since pre-historic times, mainly used in alcoholic beverages. However, in the transportation industry, ethanol is either used as a vehicle fuel by itself, blended with petrol, or as a petrol octane enhancer and oxygenate.
At Green Fuel, we produce anhydrous ethanol from sugarcane, with a purity range of a minimum of 99.6% ethanol and a maximum of 0.4% of other particulates. This is the highest quality ethanol available for blended fuel and is created by passing the ethyl alcohol through the latest distillation technology. http://ethanolrfa.org
Henry Ford designed the first Model T automobiles in 1908 to run on ethanol. In addition, ethanol has been produced in Zimbabwe for over 40 years, for both alcohol and transportation fuel purposes and our local fuel contained ethanol blends of between 10-25% from the 70’s up until the late 90’s. This blending was introduced alleviate fuel shortages and high petrol prices and production only ceased due to drought in Lowveld and a crash in the international oil price. All cars in the county during this 20 year period ran on an ethanol blend of up to 25% with no compatibility issues.
In addition, the ethanol during this time was hydrous, containing between 4% and 7% water. This is unlike the current ethanol, which is anhydrous and has a purity level of 99.6%. Water-free ethanol is superior for blending purposes and Green Fuel’s anhydrous ethanol is in line with the ‘fuel grade’ approved for use in Europe and US (to EU standards, specifications EN 15376 and CWA (EN) 15293).
What are ethanol blends?
Ethanol blends are the amount of ethanol as a percentage mixed with petrol. For example, E10 is 10% ethanol blended with 90% petrol. The most common blends are E10, E20, E50 and E85. The ‘E’ indicates that the fuel contains ethanol or Green Fuel.
|Brazil||E25||Mandated since 2007|
|China||E10||Mandated in 9 provinces|
|Malawi||E10 minimum blends up to E20||Mandated since 2009|
|Paraguay||E6||Mandated since 2010|
|Finland||E20||Mandated since 2008|
A significant number of countries use ethanol blended fuel and every country that produces ethanol for domestic consumption has implemented incentives for such projects, the most basic of these being mandatory blending.
Incentives are introduced because of the many benefits that ethanol production and use brings to a country – job creation, foreign currency retention, environmental protection, promotion of agriculture and the reduction of the price of petrol at the pump.
Lower percentages are in place in countries where there is little or no production of ethanol and all targets are set to increase over the next few years due to the benefits of renewable fuels.
Though mandated only in 10 states, ethanol blends in the U.S. are available in other states as optional or added without any labeling, making E blends present in two-thirds of the U.S. petrol supply.
In addition many of our neighbouring countries are introducing mandatory blending policies including Uganda and Mozambique which are currently legislating 10% mandate, South Africa which has gazetted its intention to introduce 10% mandatory blending (requiring a minimum of 200 million litres of ethanol per year) and Zambia which will soon introduce 20% mandatory blending.
Ethanol Use in Zimbabwe
The Green Fuel Ethanol Project was awarded National Project Status by the Government of Zimbabwe due to the significant benefits it will bring to the country.
These include, but are by no way limited, to the following:
- Job creation and employment in agriculture and technology
The ethanol project currently employs over 4,500 people and this will only increase as the project expands. State of the art harvesting techniques have also been introduced and all our local employees have been trained by experts from Brazil, ensuring that new skills are introduced into, and kept within, the country.
With investment, 36,500 fully trained, local Zimbabweans could be employed by 2020.
- Fuel Security, foreign currency savings, balance of trade
The use of ethanol provides Zimbabwe with fuel security by offering a reduced reliance on imported petroleum products. This in turn reduces the trade deficit with domestic ethanol production, replacing petroleum imports.
Ethanol is an import replacement product – this essentially means that the foreign currency usually used to purchase petroleum product from foreign oil companies remains in Zimbabwe, thereby improving Zimbabwe’s current liquidity challenges.
With every percentage of increased ethanol use, Zimbabwe improves its fuel security by being less affected by oil price fluctuations. At a blend rate of 20% (E20), approximately US$3,8 million per month will remain in Zimbabwe, replacing imported fuel.
- Clean, renewable fuel at the pump
The use of ethanol in the place of unleaded petrol decreases harmful greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90%
- Cheaper, local fuel
Ethanol is sold at a significantly cheaper price than petrol, which means that blending will reduce the cost of fuel at the pump.
These savings offer consumers more spending power as the money remains within Zimbabwe.