The Role of Bioethanol in Preventing Global Warming

Human activities remains the leading cause of the changing world’s climate. The earth’s global temperature is expected to increase by approximately 0.2 degrees Celsius in every ten years, with over 90% of this increase being associated with the increased use of petroleum-based fuels. Use of renewable energy sources remains the most viable solution to this looming danger, with bioethanol identified as the most promising alternative to the high-carbon fuel being used today (Zabed et al., 2017).

Bioethanol is a liquid biofuel obtained from carbohydrate-rich raw materials such as wheat straw, corn, microalgae, and soybeans. The process of generating this form of fuel consists of numerous steps, among which is fermentation. The process of fermentation requires less energy and also emits less carbon dioxide, majority of which are recycled back into the production system thus significantly lowering the amounts of greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted into the environment (Jambo et al., 2016).

Today, bioethanol is majorly produced from lignocellulose. Countries already producing cellulosic ethanol includes Norway and Sweden. However, Sweden uses its cellulosic ethanol mainly for production of chemicals. According to Gavahian et al (2019), use of lignocellulose in production of bioethanol is expected to double by 2022. The increased of lignocellulose stems from the food versus fuel debate. Also promoting the use of lignocellulose is the inability of carbohydrate-rich food to fully support the shift from fossil fuels to low-carbon fuels.

Bioethanol can be used in Internal Combustion Engines (ICEs) in place of petrol and other petroleum based products. However, currently, bioethanol is being used as an additive for petroleum fuel. Its high oxygen and octane levels enhances complete combustion of the petrol hence reducing the emissions of GHG. The transport sector contributes to over two thirds of the world’s GHG emissions, therefore, by promoting the use of bioethanol, we will be able to prevent global warming (Zhang et al., 2018). Bioethanol can also be used as a source of energy in residential buildings and in the generation of power through thermal combustion.

To contribute in meeting the targets of the Paris Agreement, which aims to keep the world’s global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius, many power-generating companies have shifted from use of fossil fuels as the source of power to using renewable energy. An example of these companies is Gevo, Inc. a company that focuses on the production and sale of renewable energy as an alternative to petroleum products. To promote efficiency, the company has been divided into three major segments namely Gevo, Agri-Energy, and Gevo Development.

Gevo is tasked with the responsibility of producing isobutanol and production and commercialization of renewable fuels, mainly for jet use. In short, Gevo is the research arm of Gevo, Inc. Agri-Energy and Gevo Development are tasked with responsibility of producing ethanol, isobutanol, and managing the company’s Agri-Energy facility. The company was founded in 2005 by Christopher Michael Ryan, Peter Meinhold, Frances Hamilton Arnold, and Matthew W. Peters. The company is headquartered in Douglas County, Colorado.

In 2018, Professor Frances H. Arnold, a co-founder of Gevo, Inc. was awarded a Nobel Prize for Chemistry. The prize comes after her breakthrough in enzymes development, a research that enabled Gevo, Inc. to develop the enzymes needed in production of isobutanol. Her research is considered a major breakthrough in the world’s attempt to change from the use petroleum-based fuels to renewable energy.


Gavahian, M., Munekata, P. E., Eş, I., Lorenzo, J. M., Khaneghah, A. M., & Barba, F. J. (2019). Emerging techniques in bioethanol production: from distillation to waste valorization. Green chemistry21(6), 1171-1185.

Jambo, S. A., Abdulla, R., Azhar, S. H. M., Marbawi, H., Gansau, J. A., & Ravindra, P. (2016). A review on third generation bioethanol feedstock. Renewable and sustainable energy reviews65, 756-769.

Zabed, H., Sahu, J. N., Suely, A., Boyce, A. N., & Faruq, G. (2017). Bioethanol production from renewable sources: Current perspectives and technological progress. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews71, 475-501.

Zhang, R., Fujimori, S., Dai, H., & Hanaoka, T. (2018). Contribution of the transport sector to climate change mitigation: insights from a global passenger transport model coupled with a computable general equilibrium model. Applied Energy211, 76-88.