Ethanol vs Gasoline: Difference and Comparison

Our earth is miraculously filled with many souvenirs that aren’t even located or found yet by humans.

On earth, one could find almost every possible resource like – natural resources, man-made resources, precious gems, exotic species both related to flora and fauna, etc.

Some of these resources are used to meet the regular or daily needs for the smooth functioning of humankind. And Ethanol, Gasoline both are among them as they may be categorized under the fuels.

Key Takeaways

  1. Ethanol is a renewable, bio-based fuel derived from plant materials.
  2. Gasoline is a fossil fuel derived from crude oil, with limited reserves and environmental concerns.
  3. Ethanol is a cleaner-burning fuel than gasoline, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

Ethanol vs Gasoline

Ethanol is a type of alcohol that is made from plant materials such as corn, sugarcane, or switch grass. Ethanol is produced by fermenting plant materials with yeast or bacteria. Gasoline is a petroleum-based fuel that is derived from crude oil. It is a mixture of hydrocarbons refined through a distillation process to create a fuel used in many vehicles. 

Ethanol vs Gasoline

Ethanol is one of the popular hydrocarbons which is obtained after the reaction of ethane and water but in the absence of air.

The product can be obtained in different ways like – major production is obtained from sugarcane and corn, while in a laboratory, it can be obtained with fermenting yeast in an anaerobic reaction to produce it.  

Gasoline is also one of the popular fuels that are used to give power to most vehicles. The composition of the gasoline mainly involves the binding of 500 different hydrocarbons (like – ethylbenzene, heptane, etc.).

The major source through which gasoline is obtained is crude oil. Also, when the product is used in a vehicle, the major advantage is that it doesn’t harm the vehicle engine.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonEthanolGasoline
DefinitionIt is a type of fuel that comprises an alcohol.It is a type of fuel that comprises hydrocarbons of different types.
CompositionEthyl alcoholEthylbenzene, heptane, and many others composed to form a 500 molecule hydrocarbon
SourcesThe main sources to obtain it are sugarcane and corn.Crude oil
Production of Energy LessMore
Engine DamageThey harm the engine.They don’t harm the engine.
Environmental EffectGood for environmentNot good for the environment

What is Ethanol?

Ethanol is a chemical that is obtained in laboratories while performing many reactions as one of the by-products. Also, in some natural processes, it is obtained in its raw and concentrated form.

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Although it was not considered or used more as a fuel but gradually, with time the scientists and humankind realized the importance of using ethanol as biofuel. 

The major source to obtain ethanol through natural resources is sugarcane and corn. While in laboratories, it can be obtained from performing the fermentation process.

The composition of the molecule only includes ethyl alcohol, and no doped molecule can be found. The chemical formula standardized by IUCN for ethanol is C2H5OH

Scientists have noticed through varied experiments that one gallon of ethanol produces less energy if compared to gasoline.

Although using ethanol as the biofuel for fuel may be a step closer to the environment but a step back for the vehicles. This is because ethanol spoils or damages the engine.

What is Gasoline?

Gasoline is also categorized as a fuel that is obtained from crude oil. It is not feasible to produce gasoline in laboratories. Thus, it is obtained in the large refinery on a commercial basis.

The structure or the composition of the gasoline is quite complex, unlike that of ethanol. In a broader sense, it consists of 500 different hydrocarbons linked with each other.

As gasoline is manufactured in large refineries thus, it is not obtained in its purest form. The manufacturers mix many additives in it to increase its properties. The scientific name for manufacturing and obtaining gasoline is ‘fractional distillation.

The different hydrocarbons in the gasoline structure are interestingly linked in a linear chain with some aromatic hydrocarbons.

The four major types of hydrocarbons to be noticed are – aliphatic linear (like – heptane), aromatic hydrocarbon (like – ethylbenzene), aliphatic branched (like – isooctane), and aliphatic cyclic (cyclopentane).


Main Differences Between Ethanol and Gasoline

  1. Ethanol is said to be a type of fuel having molecules of alcohol, while comparatively, on the other hand, gasoline is another type of fuel that is made of hydrocarbon molecules.
  2. The composition or the structure of ethanol consists of just ethyl alcohol molecules, while comparatively, on the other hand, the composition or the structure of gasoline consists of 500 different hydrocarbons. 
  3. The major sources to get ethanol is sugarcane and corn, while comparatively, on the other hand, the major source for getting gasoline is from crude oil. 
  4. The energy produced by one-gallon ethanol is less while comparatively, on the other hand, the energy produced by one-gallon gasoline is more by 1/3rd proportion.
  5. Using ethanol as fuel for vehicles may cause damage to the engine faster, while comparatively, on the other hand, using gasoline as the fuel for a vehicle does not harm the engine in any form. 
  6. Being a natural source and also showing complete combustion, ethanol is considered an environmentally friendly choice for many purposes while comparatively, on the other hand, gasoline is obtained from crude oil it shows incomplete combustion property which is not a criterion for environment-friendly fuel.
Difference Between Ethanol and Gasoline
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Last Updated : 03 July, 2023

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11 thoughts on “Ethanol vs Gasoline: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The information presented is comprehensive and well-organized. You’ve done a great job explaining the subject matter.

  2. The comparison table you provided is extremely helpful in understanding the differences between ethanol and gasoline.

  3. The post contains an extraordinary amount of information on a very interesting topic. Thank you for this article!

  4. The detailed breakdown of the chemical composition of ethanol and gasoline is remarkable. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

  5. While the content is informative, the lack of discussion on potential applications for ethanol limits the scope of the article.

  6. The clear distinction between the sources and energy production of ethanol and gasoline is excellently elucidated in this article.

  7. I found the section on ‘What is Ethanol?’ particularly engaging. The article effectively outlines the properties and uses of ethanol.

  8. The article delves deep into the intricacies of ethanol and gasoline, shedding light on their differences and environmental implications.


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