Alternative Fuel used in Canada: Ethanol

As introduced today by the Canada team, our country is amazingly rich in natural resources. One of its principal is the oil sands and heavy oil resources (petroleum) present in the Province of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
In order to use that resource smartly, Canada has developing a program to encourage the use of Ethanol in the cars in order to protect the environment from gas emission: the Ethanol Expansion Program (EEP). It has been put in place to increase domestic production and use of ethanol, a renewable transportation fuel, and reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This is in the scope of the Canada’s engagement to reduce those GHG emission by 33% a year. The program encourages firms to produce this type of alternate fuel by financially contributing though repayments.
Not bad eh!!
To educate you, here is some interesting info about ethanol that comes from the website below:

Ethanol is blended with gasoline to produce a fuel which has environmental advantages when compared with gasoline, and can be used in gasoline-powered vehicles manufactured since the 1980’s. Most gasoline-powered vehicles can run on a blend consisting of gasoline and up to 10 percent ethanol, known as “E-10”, which is available at some regular service stations across Canada.
Ethanol is a renewable fuel because it is produced from biomass. Although the conversion of the biomass to ethanol and the burning of the ethanol produce emissions, the net effect can be a large reduction in GHG emissions compared with fossil fuels such as gasoline. The reduction depends on the feedstock and the production processes used to make ethanol. E-10 from corn produces about 3 to 4 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline. E-10 made from wood or agricultural cellulosic materials would produce 6 to 8 percent fewer emissions compared with gasoline.

I personally think that this is still a shy initiative but definitely a start to help reducing the bad emissions coming from current gasoline because whether we want it or not, the amount of cars on the road will only increase in the coming years and the problem can only get worse because petroleum is so economically strong and we will never stop exploiting it untill it’s gone.
Also, if we look at the sustainable development definition by Gro Harlem Brundtland, it definitely is in the scope of meeting the needs of the present and helping not to compromise the ability of future generations to meet their economic needs.
If you want more information about alternate fuels, you can consult the following website

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Posted in energy
4 comments on “Alternative Fuel used in Canada: Ethanol
  1. Angelina says:

    Although the environmental benefits of gradual replacement of 100% gasoline fuel with a E10 ethanol mix is unquestionable, Canada faces several significant roadblocks, which might slow down wide acceptance of ethanol. First of all, high content ethanol fuels (starting from about 20% mix) are hard to start in the colder climates due to thermogenic characteristics of the fuel, which results in low acceptance of ethanol fuels by commercial freight companies. The second problem is the fuel penalty (about 2%) which increases total fuel expenditures: in times of growing fuel prices, any additional increases due to volume of fuel used are seen unfavourably. To mitigate this negative cost effect, the government should implement addtional financial incentives to the ethanol producers to reduce market price of ethanol. The third problem lies within the realm of commercial or private vehicle insurance policies, which currently do not provide coverage for engines operating on higher than 10% ethanol mix.

  2. Eric Rhéaume says:

    Those are great comments Angelina and I wasn’t expecting less from a Transport Canada expert. Let me try to build from that.
    For the first argument, you state that the cars are harder to start with ethanol under colder climates but after seeing the Al Gore movie, you must agree that sadly, this issue seems like it will resolve by itself in a near future!! But lets focus on the short-term. You are right that for Canada, this is a major issue but what about exporting in other warmer countries?? Canada would therefore fulfill, although indirectly, his responsibilty towards the planet. Also, how about enforcing its use during the warmer months of the year in Canada? There could be a sub-program to EPP put in place: giving compensation to gas stations that has it, have it at a lower prices for the customers… EPP is a good initiative. How about pushing it a little further?
    For the second argument, you’re right all along. The government should get involve. This is part of our engagement of reducing our emission by 33% a year.
    Lastly, again governement should get involve when the % of ethanol becomes greater. But in short-term, 10% is a first step.
    To conclude, all of the above loops with the concept of Service efficiency seen in class: Get the same amount of service (drive your car) by using less product (less fossil fuels releasing more CO2.
    Thanks again for the constructive feedback.

  3. David says:

    I think Ethanol is a great stop-gap measure to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels but there are a few more points that I think should be raised in this discussion.
    I worry that sufficient thought is not being given to the source of this ethanol that is supposed to replace all the fossil fuels currently used. In order to replace even 10% of fossil fuels in vehicles, vast swathes of land would be needed to be covered in rapeseed and grown very aggressively. While I think the resultant ethanol is a good replacement for the fossil fuels, I worry that the method by which this ethanol would be produced might not be as eco-system equitable as some might hope. In a situation of high-demand for ethanol, farmers would end up replacing their traditional food crops with rapeseed and would begin intensive fertilisation of their crops in order to meet the demand. Such over use of the land is a source of concern with regards to the environment and must be taken into account when discussing issues of service efficiency. The throughput efficiency benefits of ethanol may in fact decrease significantly as the demand increases and production factors are taken into consideration.
    With regards to the 10% figure, it should be pointed out that another reason this figure was chosen was due to the corrosive nature of ethanol fuel when compared to regular petrol. Ethanol is more corrosive to a standard vehicle that has not been upgraded to support ethanol and so the corrosive effect of the ethanol over the lifetime of the car is another factor in the choice of a figure of 10% supplement.

    I believe ethanol is most certainly a great solution for the present, but I would question its sustainability as a replacement for fossil fuels.

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