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Fuel ethanol is a form of alcohol, fermented and distilled from a wide range of plant life such as wheat, corn or canola. Through a process called hydrolysis of grain starch, starches found in plants are converted to sugars that are fermented to produce ethanol. This ethanol is then distilled and dried to produce anhydrous ethanol. New technologies, often referred to as 'second generation ethanol technologies', allowing raw materials such as forestry waste or municipal solid waste to be turned into ethanol are also emerging.
Ethanol can be mixed with gasoline for use in motor vehicles. Many ethanol blended gasolines are available throughout Canada, typically varying from 5 to 10% ethanol blend. The Renewable Fuel Standard in Alberta requires an average of 5% renewable alcohol in gasoline and 2% renewable diesel in diesel fuel.
Ethanol blended gasoline improves engine performance while lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Gasoline containing 10% ethanol reduces emissions by 3 to 8%.
Biodiesel is a renewable fuel manufactured from vegetable oils, recycled cooking greases or animal fats. It can be used either as a blended fuel with petroleum diesel or as a pure fuel. Blended biodiesel can often be used without any engine modification.
Biodiesel reduces the level of several diesel pollutants including sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.
Biogas may be referred to as 'renewable natural gas' or 'green methane', containing approximately 70% methane. Biogas is created through the fermentation of organic feedstock, including manure, food processing waste or various plant life.
Biodigestors heat organic feedstock, causing anaerobic bacteria to multiply and feed on solids within the feedstock. The byproduct of this is biogas. As the gas is produced, it rises to the top of the digester and is collected into a piping system.
Biogas is often used in the generation of electricity to generate heat and steam to drive turbines.
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