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Ethanol vs MTBE

Supplier: Absolute Filters
06 June, 2013

In January 2004, California will ban methyl tertiary-butyl ether, an additive to gasoline that makes the fuel burn hotter but it is also a pollutant.

Ethanol can be used as an alternate fuel additive to replace methyl tertiary-butyl ether, MTBE.

This will open the market up for ethanol production. MTBE has been used for years, but it is now considered by some as an environmental threat.


MTBE is a byproduct made from oil. It’s added to reformulated gasoline as an oxygenated fuel to make the engine burn cleaner. The EPA has classified MTBE as a possible human carcinogen. Laboratory rats and mice who consumed MTBE have developed lymphoma, leukaemia, and testicular tumours. So far the EPA has resisted calling a ban on all MTBE.

Laboratory test have shown small amounts of MTBE (little as 5 parts per billion) have the same effect on lab animals.

Another government report states, MTBE is a suspected carcinogen.

The U.S. Geological Survey has found MTBE in more than a quarter of the nation’s shallow urban water wells, streams, lakes, rain, and snow. This survey reported that MTBE doesn’t biodegrade. MTBE can affect the water supply for years, even if MTBE is banned. EPA has not set a national standard for MTBE in drinking water, but some states have set their own limits.

What is Ethanol?

Ethanol (ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol, EtOH) is a clear, colourless liquid with an agreeable odour. In dilute aqueous solution, it has a somewhat sweet flavour, but in more concentrated solutions it has a burning taste. Ethanol (CH3CH2OH) is made up of a group of chemical compounds whose molecules contain a hydroxyl group, -OH, bonded to a carbon atom. Ethanol made from cellulosic biomass materials instead of traditional feedstocks (starch crops) is called bioethanol.

The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 mandated the sale of oxygenated fuels in areas with unhealthy levels of carbon monoxide. Since that time, there has been a strong demand for ethanol as an oxygenate blended with gasoline. In the United States each year, approximately 2 billion gallons are added to gasoline to increase octane and improve the emissions quality of gasoline. In some areas, ethanol is blended with gasoline to form an E10 blend (10% ethanol and 90% gasoline), but it can be used in higher concentrations such as E85 or in its pure form.

All automobile manufacturers that do business in the United States approve the use of 10 percent ethanol/gasoline blends. Fuel ethanol blends are successfully used in all types of vehicles and engines that require gasoline. Approval of ethanol blends is found in the owners' manuals under references to refuelling or gasoline. E-diesel, a fuel mix of up to 15% ethanol and regular Number 2 diesel fuel, is starting to be used in vehicles without any major engine modifications.

Chemical properties: Ethanol is ethane with a hydrogen molecule replaced by a hydroxyl radical. Ethanol increases oxygenate supplies, reducing the need for MTBE imports and helping to reduce consumer costs.

AF products can be used in various points in the ethanol process. Since some ethanol building projects are considered fast track, AF can work quickly to accommodate its products accordingly. Contact AF for any nonspecific applications. You may also contact AF for any additional questions regarding the ethanol process or AF’s products.

Absolute Filters Ethanol products include:

Model 602 Single Bag Filter

  • 190 & 200 Proof
  • Iron Recovery
  • Loading Systems
    •     Alpha amylase enzyme
    •     Gluco amylase enzyme
    •     Sulfuric acid unloading

Model 602S (8-30) Basket Strainer

  • Cook water
  • Evaporate condensate

Model 603S (6-30) Basket Strainer

  • Process sump
  • Energy centre sump
  • WTB sump pump

CSL Conical Strainers

  • Cooling tower pumps

Series 180 "Y" Strainers

  • Natural gas line
  • Seal water header
  • Vac Seal Water
  • Low pressure turbine steam inlet