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Sugarcane as juice and Ethanol as fuel – Say Cheers

Ethanol: What Is It?

From our childhood, we have either relished the highly nutritious juice from sugarcane or have used the sugar extracts in our delicacies. Never knew the same sugarcane can be processed to extract fuel to drive our vehicles.

Ethanol is a grain alcohol, or plant mass formula derived from the natural sugars found in biomass, or vegetation like corn, wheat, barley, potatoes, and of course sugar cane. This is then processed to create a renewable form of fuel or fuel additive, which is cost-effective and also good for the planet. 

Ethanol is a colorless, flammable, oxygenated, hydrocarbon liquid. Ethanol is used in a wide range of products such as biochemicals, bioplastics, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial products (solvents, paint), and, increasingly, as a biofuel.

Ethanol Utilization 

  • Personal Care: The personal care products industry is one of the largest users of industrial ethanol or ethyl alcohol. Ethanol is widely used in many deodorants, lotions, hand sanitizers, soaps, and shampoos.
  • Ethanol as Fuel: Pure 100% ethanol is not generally used as a motor fuel; Instead, a percentage of ethanol is combined with unleaded gasoline. This is beneficial because of ethanol :
      • decrease the fuel’s cost
      • increase the fuel’s octane rating
      • decreases gasoline’s harmful emissions

Various studies conducted all over the world shows that ethanol blending in petrol at different ratios has remarkably reduced the emission of GHG from vehicles

Ethanol as fuel for the Renewable Energy sector

Ethanol as fuel

There are a number of benefits of using Ethanol as fuel, for beginners, it is a renewable resource, fossil fuels used to make gasoline is non-renewable, so one day they will run out. 

Another good reason for using Ethanol as fuel is the reduction of pollution, we only have one planet and if we keep polluting it we may very well find ourselves with nowhere to live. Any steps that we can make toward reducing pollution are always positive. 

Another good reason to consider an Ethanol fuel is that by reducing emissions from today’s vehicles and infrastructure, renewable ethanol is making a positive impact in the climate fight. 

Renewable ethanol is expected to play an important role in the realization of the EU’s energy and climate ambitions to 2030. Its production opens new markets for farmers and boosts rural economies, and its use offers consumers a convenient way to reduce harmful emissions. 

But it has also the potential to do even more in the upcoming crucial decades.

The governments are increasingly promoting Ethanol


India grows sugarcane abundantly, it is in fact the second-largest producer in the world after Brazil. Thus promoting the Indian government to look at Ethanol as a reliable alternative to fossil fuels.

The country has already started to blend Ethanol with petrol. The Indian government introduced the National Biofuel Policy in 2018, whereby the plan is to achieve ethanol with petrol blend levels of 10 percent by 2022 and 20 percent by 2030.

The government plans to improve ethanol production capacity to 9 billion liters from 3.55 billion liters in two years. “For this, it has given in-principle approval to 362 new plants in sugar mills for adding capacity of 5.5 billion liters. With improved production of sugarcane, India’s ethanol production capacity may increase to over 375-400 crore liters” said the Indian Sugar Mills Association of India (ISMA)

The Indian economy is forecasted to grow to $7 trillion by 2030. Therefore, aiming to form and create an ethanol economy that is enormous value will boost its domestic economy. 


Brazil is the largest producer of sugar cane, the country started to produce Ethanol as fuel in the 1970s. With leaps and bounds, the country has made significant progress towards bio-fuel. In the early 2000s, the government began promoting vehicles that could run both on petrol & ethanol. About one-third of all vehicles on Brazilian roads run on Ethanol.

Ethanol Generation from Different Sources

1st generation (1G) biofuels are made up of sugar and vegetable oils; whereas 2nd generation (2G) biofuels are often manufactured from lignocelluloses biomass or woody crops, agricultural residues, or waste like rice & wheat straw, cotton stalk, etc.

As the sugar mill’s capacity isn’t enough to supply the required levels of ethanol for E10, the government is searching for 2nd generation ethanol production. 

Steps have been taken in that direction, and oil marketing companies (IOCL, BPCL, etc.) have already started placing orders for 2nd generation ethanol plants. These 2nd generation plants will take at least 18 months to come online. Parallel, some sugar companies are also enhancing their ethanol capacities to benefit from E10 blending.


A glass of sugarcane juice is packed with nutrients and is an awesome alternative for aerated drinks. 

Similarly, the Ethanol produced from sugarcane and other resources is being considered globally as one of the most prominent and possible substitutes for fossil fuel. 


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