Drawbacks of Bioethanol

Why isn’t bioethanol more widely used?

The many benefits of Bioethanol make it an attractive alternative energy source for the future, but why is there so much debate about implementing this technology at a larger scale?

Disadvantages of Bioethanol- Photo taken from: http://www.governorsbiofuelscoalition.org/?p=2006

Drawbacks of bioethanol include:

  • The amount of arable land needed to grow the crops in order to produce a large amount of fuel is immense. This could greatly impact the biodiversity of our environment as we could see natural habitats being overrun, including forests.
  • There is large debate about the shift of crop use from food production to fuel production and the fear that it will impact the prices of food around the world.
  • There is debate over the neutrality of bioethanol’s carbon emissions; during production a large amount of carbon dioxide is released.
  • The energy content of ethanol is much lower than that of petrol gasoline. ┬áBurning a liter of ethanol produces 34% less energy than burning a liter of petrol.
  • Implementing more bioethanol would require ┬ámodifications to many vehicles. Many older engines cannot even use 10% ethanol-petrol mixtures.
  • Using higher amounts of ethanol reduces fuel economy.
  • There would have to be a large infrastructure change to provide ethanol refueling stations.
  • Ethanol also absorbs water easily giving it a high tendency to corrode materials.
  • Pure ethanol is difficult to vaporize meaning starting a car in cold weather could be more difficult that a car that runs on petrol.


Ann, Ngee. “Bioethanol.” : Advantages & Disadvantages of. 1 Feb. 2011. Web. 6 May 2015.

“Ethanol Benefits and Considerations.” Alternative Fuels Data Center:. U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program, 2 Jan. 2015. Web. 6 May 2015.


(Composed by Matthew Schmitt, Edited by Tien Tran)


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By Eli Karp, Robert King, Tien Tran, and Matthew Schmitt