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Chemistry - The Bioethanol Dilema

If the UK government achieves its plan of reducing emissions from burning diesel and petrol by 2010, what percentage of carbon dioxide emissions in the UK will then come from these sources?

The current UK emissions are 28%, if the government succeed in their reduction of 20% by 2010 then the carbon dioxide emissions after the reduction will be 8%.

What is a Life Cycle Assessment?

A life cycle assessment is a way of analysing the production, use and disposal of a material or product to add up to the total energy and water used and the effects on the environment.

In 2006 which European country used the most bioethanol?

 Sweden used the most bioethanol in 2006, they used 1900 units.

By what percentage did France’s bioethanol consumptions increase between 2005 and 2006?

 Percentage change: Change ÷ original x 100%

Original = 870

Change = 1750 – 870 = 880 880 ÷ 870 x 100 = 101.15%

Check: 101.15% + 870 = 880.005

If 1Kg of bioethanol is burned, what is the weight of carbon dioxide produced?

 The Equation in the article tells us:

1 mole bioethanol à 2 moles carbon dioxide

C 2H 5OH à 2CO 2

So 1Kg of bioethanol gives: 88 ÷ 46 x 1 = 1.91Kg of carbon dioxide

Atoms are conserved during chemical reactions. Explain how the equation of burning bioethanol in air demonstrates this principle.

 The atoms in this chemical reaction are conserved because no atoms are created and no atoms are destroyed. You can see this by calculating the reactants and products masses, if both sides have equal numbers of atoms then the reaction is balanced and so all atoms are conserved.

How much less energy does burning bioethanol release than burning the same volume of petrol?  

Burning bioethanol releases 34% less energy than burning the same volume of petrol.

Theoretically burning pure bioethanol produces 70% less carbon dioxide than burning the same volume of petrol. Explain the reasons why some scientists believe that the reduction in carbon dioxide will only be about 13% in reality?

Some scientists believe that using bioethanol rather than petrol reduces the total emissions of carbon dioxide by only about 13% because of the pollution caused by the production process, and also because bioethanol gets only about 70% of the mileage of petrol.

How does bioethanol improve air quality?

Using bioethanol can help to reduce the amount of carbon monoxide and particulate carbon produced by vehicles, thus improving air quality.

What other advantages has bioethanol?

Bioethanol requires 61% less energy to produce than petrol, less energy and less pollution are caused when transporting it to the filling station.

Bioethanol uses the Earth’s resources in a way that can continue in the future.

Blending bioethanol with petrol will help extend the life of the UK’s own oil supplies and reduce our dependence on other oil producing nations.

Bioethanol is biodegradable.

It is far less toxic than fossil fuels.

Why is carbon monoxide so dangerous?  

Carbon monoxide is a gas composed of one carbon and one oxygen atom. Carbon monoxide is colourless, odourless, and tasteless making it difficult to detect, these effects can kill people is they are exposed to it for long periods of time.. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas, it is given off by appliances that burn fossil fuels.

How much fuel could the UK’s surplus of wheat produce each year?  

The UK grows a surplus of about 3.5 million tons of wheat each year. This wheat surplus could produce about 1 million tons of fuel, which is equivalent to 5% of the UK petrol market.

Explain why bioethanol is considered to be a sustainable material. Include reference to carbon dioxide in your answer.

 The use of bioethanol helps us to become more sustainable because, photosynthesis absorbs carbon dioxide from the air as fuel crops grow. The sugar produced from fuel crops is then processed bioethanol. The carbon dioxide that was absorbed by the fuel crops is returned to the air as the bioethanol is burned. This cycle can be continued indefinitely, making bioethanol a sustainable material.  

What are the disadvantages of using maize as a source of bioethanol?

 If bioethanol has to be imported, it is most likely to be imported from the USA, and will use maize as the source of bioethanol, which means it will use fossil fuels at every stage of production. Hence that growing maize appears to use 30% more energy than the bioethanol produced when used as a fuel.

Food crops could be replaced by fuel crops as the demand for bioethanol increases. What are the consequences of this likely to be?

The consequences of this are likely to be, increase in food prices, which will lead to higher prices for meat products, dairy products, the price of bread will rise as these crops are replaced for fuel crops. Already 10% of the worlds sugar harvest is being used for bioethanol, making the price of sugar double.  

What might the consequences of increased bioethanol production be for people in developing countries?  

The consequences of increased bioethanol production means that for people in developing countries, could lose their arable land for food production to fuel crops to produce more bioethanol. This means that there will be less food for people in Africa and other developing countries. The amount of grain to run a large car could be used to feed a population of an African village.

However, there is an advantage to the increase of bioethanol, farmers in developing countries, will get more money for their crops then they did before. The increased production of bioethanol could also lead to new jobs for the people of many developing countries.

Considering all the information in the article, do you think that the production and use of bioethanol should be increased. Explain you answer.  

I think that if governments want to increase production and use of bioethanol then they need to think of a better way of sourcing this product, because surely it is better if we feed a village in Africa on the grain used to run a large car. If the governments increased the production and use of bioethanol then they need to think of how to make the process even more sustainable than it already is.

Overall I think that the people of these developing countries should be given some the benefits of profits made from the production of bioethanol. The cultivation of this product must be sustainable and the working conditions in developing countries must be reasonable.

As bioethanol consumption increases so will the need for more fuel crops, will the process remain sustainable?

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