About Ethanol


What is Ethanol?

Also referred to as ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol, or ETOH, ethanol is a clear liquid with an agreeable odor. Ethanol is made by fermenting and distilling simple sugars. Today, ethanol is a fuel produced from crops such as corn, grain sorghum, wheat, sugar, and other agricultural feedstocks. Most fuel ethanol produced in the U.S. is derived from corn and the latest figures indicate that 10% of the U.S. corn crop is dedicated to ethanol production. In Brazil, the world's top producer of ethanol, sugar is the primary feedstock. Since it is produced from crops or plants that harness the power of the sun, ethanol is considered a renewable fuel. Pure fuel ethanol contains chemical properties identical to that of other grain alcohol. As such, it must be denatured or made unfit for human consumption. In the U.S., the most common denaturant is gasoline. There are three major types of fuel ethanol:

E10 : The most common from of ethanol, E10 contains 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline. Nearly 3 billion gallons of ethanol is consumed each year in the U.S., the vast majority of which is E10. All automobile manufacturers in the U.S. approve the use of E10.

E85 : A mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, E85 is a leading alternative fuel used in the U.S. Over 3.5 million autos run on E85 fuel, and it can be purchased at approximately 200 refueling sites in the U.S. When E85 is not available, these flexible fuel vehicles can operate on any blend of ethanol or straight unleaded gasoline.

E95 : Pure ethanol, or the alcohol produced in an ethanol production facility. E95 must be denatured so humans cannot consume it. While it can be used by some vehicles in its pure form, most E95 is currently blended with gasoline for resale in petroleum markets.

Approximately 30% of all gasoline consumed in the United States will be blended with ethanol in 2004. Because the ethanol molecule contains oxygen, it allows an auto engine to more completely combust fuel, resulting in fewer emissions. Fuel ethanol blends are successfully used in all types of vehicles and engines that require gasoline. Approval of ethanol blends is found in the owners' manuals under references to refueling or gasoline.

Information provided courtesy of American Coalition for Ethanol, all rights reserved.

How is Ethanol Made?

Ethanol can be made by a dry mill process or a wet mill process. Most of the fuel ethanol in the U.S. is made using the dry mill method. The major steps in this process are:

  1. Milling. The feedstock (corn, wheat, barley, etc.) passes through a hammer mill which grinds it into a fine powder called meal. The vast majority of ethanol in the U.S. is produced from corn.
  2. Liquefaction. The meal is mixed with water and alpha-amylase then passed through cookers where the starch is liquefied. Heat is applied at this stage to enable liquefaction. Cookers with a high temperature stage (120-150 degrees Celsius) and a lower temperature holding period (95 degrees Celsius) are used. High temperatures reduce bacteria levels in the mash.
  3. Saccharification. The mash from the cookers is cooled and the secondary enzyme (gluco-amylase) is added to convert the liquefied starch to fermentable sugars (dextrose).
  4. Fermentation. Yeast is added to the mash to ferment the sugars to ethanol and carbon dioxide. Using a continuous process, the fermenting mash is allowed to flow through several fermenters until it is fully fermented and leaves the final tank. In a batch process, the mash stays in one fermenter for about 48 hours before the distillation process is started.
  5. Distillation. The fermented mash, now called beer, contains about 10% alcohol plus all the non-fermentable solids from the corn and yeast cells. The mash is pumped to the continuous flow, multi-column distillation system where the alcohol is removed from the solids and the water. The alcohol leaves the top of the final column at about 96% strength, and the residue mash, called stillage, is transferred from the base of the column to the co-product processing area.
  6. Dehydration. The alcohol from the top of the column passes through a dehydration system where the remaining water will be removed. Most ethanol plants use a molecular sieve to capture the last bit of water in the ethanol. The alcohol product at this stage is called anhydrous ethanol (pure, without water) and is approximately 200 proof.
  7. Denaturing. Ethanol that will be used for fuel is denatured, or made unfit for human consumption, with a small amount (2-5%) of gasoline at the facility which produces the ethanol.
  8. Co-Products. There are two main co-products created in the production of ethanol: distillers grain and carbon dioxide. Distillers grain, wet or dry, is a valuable livestock feed. Carbon dioxide is given off in great quantities during fermentation and many ethanol plants collect, compress, and sell it for use in other industries.

Information provided courtesy of American Coalition for Ethanol, all rights reserved

Distillers Grain

Distillers grains are a co-product of the ethanol production process.

  • Wet Distillers
  • Dry Distillers
  • Distillers a great source of protein, fat, minerals & vitamins

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Ethanol Fuel & Your Vehicle

Ethanol is a clean, high-octane, high-performance fuel for your vehicle.

Up to a ten-percent blend of ethanol is covered under warranty by every auto manufacturer that sells vehicles in the U.S. for every make and every model of vehicle.

Ethanol, the clean fuel:

  • Ethanol is a clean-burning fuel that reduces carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon tailpipe emissions.
  • Ethanol contains 35% oxygen by weight, making it burn more cleanly and completely than gasoline.
  • E85 has the highest oxygen content of any fuel available, making it burn even more cleanly and even more completely than any other fuel.
  • E85 contains 80% fewer gum-forming compounds than gasoline.

Ethanol, the high performance fuel:

  • Pure, 100% ethanol has an octane rating of 113.
  • Adding 10% ethanol to unleaded gasoline raises the octane by 2 - 3 points.
E10: 10% ethanol; 90% unleaded gasoline

What is E10?
E10 is 10% ethanol and 90% unleaded gasoline. This ten-percent ethanol blend is covered under warranty by every automobile manufacturer that sells vehicles in the U.S. for every make and every model of automobile. Many even recommend its use because of its high octane and superior performance characteristics.

How do I know if I'm getting ethanol-blended fuel at the gas station?
Some, but not all, gas pumps will be labeled with the amount of ethanol contained in the fuel. States determine whether they have mandatory, voluntary, or no pump labeling laws.

Where can I buy ethanol-blended gasoline?
Because ethanol-blended fuel is becoming more and more common, the real question is the opposite: where isn't ethanol-blended fuel sold? Ethanol-blended fuel is sold extensively throughout the Midwest where most of the country's ethanol is produced. In Minnesota, for example, every gallon of unleaded gasoline contains 10% ethanol.With the banning of the oxygenate MTBE in 17 states, ethanol is also used in East and West Coast markets.

Do people ever use more or less than a 10% ethanol blend?
Yes. In some areas of the country, ethanol blends of 5.7% or 7.7% are used instead of 10%. E85 is an alternative fuel that is 85% ethanol and only 15% unleaded gasoline.

However, the vast majority of the nearly 3 billion gallons of ethanol used annually in the U.S. is E10, the 10% ethanol blend.

What does the term oxygenate mean?
Ethanol is an oxygenate, meaning it adds valuable oxygen to the gasoline. More oxygen in a fuel allows it to burn more completely and cleanly. Ethanol is 35% oxygen by weight, so a ten-percent ethanol blend produces gasoline with 3.5% oxygen. Oxygenates are required in some areas of the country with air pollution concerns.

What is the octane level of ethanol?
Pure ethanol carries an octane rating of 113. So adding ten percent ethanol to unleaded gasoline will raise the fuel's octane rating by between 2 and 3 points.

Is ethanol a new product?
No. Ethanol, at its most basic, is grain alcohol and has been around for centuries. Henry Ford envisioned his automobiles running on this type of alcohol instead of on gasoline.

Can E10 be used in small engines?
Yes. Ethanol-blended fuel is safe to use in small engines like motorcycles, lawn mowers, trimmers, boats, personal watercraft, snowmobiles, ATV's, and many others. Manufacturers understand that a considerable portion of the gasoline sold in this country contains ethanol and ensure that their products are compatible with oxygenated fuel.

Information provided courtesy of American Coalition for Ethanol, all rights reserved

E85: 85% ethanol; 15% unleaded gasoline

What is E85?
E85 is a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% unleaded gasoline for use in Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFV's). E85 is classified as an Alternative Fuel by the U.S. Department of Energy.

What is a Flexible Fuel Vehicle?
A Flexible Fuel Vehicle (FFV) is a vehicle that can operate on any blend of ethanol up to 85%. If E85 is not available, the vehicle can operate on straight unleaded gasoline or any percentage of ethanol up to 85%. Many major automakers including Daimler Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercury, Isuzu, and Mercedes manufacture vehicles that can operate on E85. FFV's have been produced for several years, and the number of E85-compatible makes and models is increasing each year.

Visit the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition for a complete list of FFV makes and models.

Where can I purchase E85?
There are several hundred E85 pumps across the country, and that number grows each day. Follow this link to see a complete list of E85 refueling stations.

Where can I purchase a Flexible Fuel Vehicle?
Check with your local auto dealer - many dealerships stock models with the flexible fuel option. Or, if you're ordering a new vehicle, your dealership can order the vehicle with the flexible fuel option for you. The flexible fuel option is available at little or no cost to the consumer, making these vehicles a smart choice for those wishing to tap alternative energy sources.

Are there any incentives to purchase an E85 vehicle?
There is a tax deduction available for those who purchase a flexible fuel vehicle. Check IRS Publication 535 for the 2003 Clean Fuel Vehicle guidelines.

Why should I consider E85?
E85 is a high octane, high performance fuel. It is a renewable source of energy and reduces the crude oil imports needed to fuel America?s transportation system. Ethanol is a clean, environmentally friendly fuel and, in an 85% blend, is very clean and even more environmentally friendly. E85 reduces harmful hydrocarbon and greenhouse gas emissions. Because E85 vehicles are flexible by nature, owning a flexible fuel vehicle is a practical way to enter the world of alternative fuels without any limitations on the vehicle's range.

Information provided courtesy of American Coalition for Ethanol, all rights reserved

Ethanol & Manufacturers Warranties

Auto Warranties
Up to a ten-percent blend of ethanol is covered under warranty by every auto manufacturer that sells vehicles in the U.S. (listed below) for every make and every model of vehicle.Many of these manufacturers recommend ethanol's use because of its clean-burning and high-octane characteristics.

BMW, Daimler Chrysler, Ferrari, Ford, General Motors, Honda / Acura, Hyundai, Isuzu, Jaguar, Kia, Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan / Infiniti, Porsche, Saab, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota,Volkswagen / Audi, Volvo

Boats & Personal Watercraft
Warranty statements of the boat manufacturers listed below approve of the use of ten-percent ethanol blends in their inboard or outboard motors.

Bombardier, Honda,Indmar Marine, Mercury Marine, Nissan, Evinrude, Johnson, Pleasurecraft, Suzuki, Yamaha

The snowmobile manufacturers listed below have warranty statements that include ethanol as an approved fuel. Many manufacturers recommend its use to promote clean air in areas of heavy snowmobile use such as Yellowstone National Park.

Arctic Cat* Bombardier, Honda, Kawasaki, Polaris, Suzuki, Yamaha
* Arctic Cat requires that fuel designation connector be disconnected from ECU when using any oxygenated fuel.

Other Small Engines
Ten-percent ethanol blends are also covered under warranty by these makers of other small engines.

AGCO, Ariens, Briggs & Stratton, Coleman, ECHO, Generac Power Systems, Homelite, Honda, Husqvarna, John Deere, Kohler, Lawn Boy, Massey Ferguson, Murray, Poulan, Sears, Simplicity, Snapper, Toro, Troy-Bilt

For specific warranty language, please e-mail ACE with your request.

Ethanol's Use in Other Engines

Ethanol's use goes well beyond just cars, trucks, and sport utility vehicles. Ethanol-blended fuels are safe for use in motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, and boats.

Ethanol can also be used in other small engines including personal watercraft, snowmobiles, lawn mowers, yard trimmers, and chainsaws.

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KAAPA Ethanol Holdings, LLC

15 South Central Avenue
PO Box 2318
Kearney, NE 68847

(308) 455-4190

KAAPA Ethanol, LLC

8450 KAAPA Lane
PO Box 238
Minden, NE 68959

(308) 743-2217

KAAPA Ethanol Ravenna, LLC

35955 Navaho Road
PO Box 85
Ravenna, NE 68869

(308) 452-3900


4270 Turkey Creek Road
PO Box 589
Elm Creek, NE 68836

(308) 856-4643

KAAPA Partners Aurora, LLC

2103 Harvest Drive
Aurora, NE 68818

(402) 694-3635