Is ethanol more of a pollutant than gasoline? Surprisingly, the science says yes.
According to our Expert, who holds a PhD in Biochemical Engineering, a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering, and has over 40 years experience performing biotechnology, bioengineering, and bioprocess research, both ethanol and gasoline deliver the same amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere per gallon consumed. However, when compared on a per mile driven basis, burning ethanol actually produces 54% more CO2 as global warming pollutant than gasoline due to the fact that ethanol has lower fuel efficiency.
For the science buffs out there, the energy production produced by burning materials is proportional to the molecules of oxygen used. Here are the chemical formulas for the energy produced by burning octane via gasoline and by burning glucose via ethanol.
Octane (n-dodecane): C12H26 + 18.5 O2 → 12 CO2 + 13 H2O 18.5 x energy units.
Glucose via ethanol:
Glucose 2 C6H12O6 → 4 CO2 + 4 C2H5OH
Ethanol: 4 C2H5OH + 12 O2 → 8 CO2 + 12 H2O
2 C6H12O6 + 12 O2 → 12 CO2 + 12 H2O 12.0 x energy units
What is the scientific conclusion? To reduce CO2 as a global warming pollutant, stop using ethanol as an automobile fuel substitute!