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Industries Served

+ Motor fuel

The largest single use of ethanol is as a motor fuel and fuel additive. According to an industry advocacy group for promoting ethanol called the American Coalition for Ethanol, ethanol as a fuel reduces harmful tailpipe emissions of carbon monoxide, particulate matter, oxides of nitrogen, and other ozone-forming pollutants.

+ Beverages

Ethanol is the principal psychoactive constituent in alcoholic beverages. With depressant effects on the central nervous system, it has a complex mode of action and affects multiple systems in the brain.

The ethanol content of a beverage is usually measured in terms of the volume fraction of ethanol in the beverage, expressed either as a percentage or in alcoholic proof units.

+ Household heating

Recently ethanol has gained significant popularity as a relatively safe fuel for flue-less, real flame fireplaces often referred to as bioethanol fires. It is normally kept in an ethanol burner containing a wick such as glass wool, a safety shield to reduce the chances of accidents and provided with a form of extinguisher - usually in the form of a plate or shutter to cut off oxygen.

An additional benefit is that, unlike a flue based fireplace, 100% of the heat energy produced enters the room. This serves to offset some of the heat loss from an external air vent, as well as offset the relatively high cost of the fuel compared to other forms of heating.

+ Feedstock

Ethanol is an important industrial ingredient and has widespread use as a base chemical for other organic compounds.

+ Antiseptic

Ethanol is used in medical wipes and in most common antibacterial hand sanitizer gels at a concentration of about 62% v/v as an antiseptic. Ethanol kills organisms by denaturing their proteins and dissolving their lipids and is effective against most bacteria and fungi, and many viruses.

+ Treatment for poisoning by other alcohols

Ethanol is sometimes used to treat poisoning by other, more toxic alcohols.