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Saturday, February 28, 2015

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Ethanol and the Environment

Ethanol-blended fuels help reduce carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and hydrocarbon tailpipe emissions. The Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory reports that ethanol-blended fuels reduced carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions in 2005 by 7.8 million tons. This, in effect, is similar to removing the annual greenhouse gas emissions of more than one million automobiles. Furthermore, Ethanol is an oxygenate (an oxygen substance added to fuels), and that oxygen helps the fuel burn more cleanly and more completely. Cleaner fuel means cleaner air.

Ethanol plants today are built with and utilize the best emission-control technology available. Thermal oxidizers (TO’s) control the vast majority of emissions and odors that might come out of a plant. The U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) classifies most ethanol plants as “minor” emissions sources since they emit less than 100 tons of pollutants per year; the average-sized power plant, in contrast, may emit more than 20,000 tons per year. Most cars emit about six tons of pollutants in a year, which means that the emissions from an ethanol plant are probably less than the emission from vehicles in an average neighborhood.