American Water
American Water  
HomeContact UsPress RoomInvestor RelationsCorporate ResponsibilityService Line ProtectionProducts & ServicesCareersLearning Center

Ethanol

Ethanol has moved into the spotlight because of its green beginnings and clean-burning process. Made from renewable resources – usually corn – ethanol is an alternative fuel that produces lower greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum-based gasoline. Increased use of domestically produced ethanol has the potential to decrease U.S. reliance on foreign oil.

American Water helps ethanol plants deliver the water supply they need for biofuel production. We offer plants the expertise to manage and treat their water supply; design and build water supply infrastructure; and find new water sources where adequate supply doesn’t exist.

Ethanol is produced by fermenting corn or other biomass high in carbohydrates (such as sugar cane or wheat) through a process similar to brewing beer. It is currently blended into nearly half of America’s unleaded gasoline to increase its octane rating and improve performance characteristics; a blend containing 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline is most common. An alternative blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline is commonly used in flexible fuel vehicles manufactured by several leading automakers.

Ethanol has been used as a transportation fuel since the late 19th century. In 1908, the Ford Model T was designed with a carburetor adjustment that could allow the vehicle to run on ethanol. Use of ethanol waned with the coming of low-priced petroleum in the 1940s but has increased in recent decades with fluctuating oil supply and prices.