Ethanol Use In Costa Rica – Blends & Biofuels

Ethanol Use In Costa Rica



The government, based on the National Biofuel Program, established the mandatory use of all gasoline sold in Costa Rica with a blend of around 7% ethanol, starting in October 2008.

The implementation phase follows a two year trial that took place in the provinces of Guanacaste and Puntarenas. The government expects to increase the percentage of ethanol mixed with gasoline to 12% in the next 4 to 5 years.

The Costa Rican government is pursuing this policy to lower the country's dependency of foreign oil and to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases produced. The plan also calls for an increase in ethanol producing crops and tax breaks for flex-fuel vehicles and other alternative fuel vehicles.

However, the introduction of the blend of 7% ethanol was postponed in September 2008 until the beginning of 2009. This delay was due to a request by the national association of fuel retailers to have more time available to adapt their fueling infrastructure. Additional delays caused another postponement, as fueling stations were not ready yet for handling ethanol fuel, and now implementation is expected for November 2009

Despite the official postponement, during the months of February and March 2009, ethanol in different blends was sold without warning to consumers, which was cause for complains. RECOPE, explained that it had already bought 50,000 barrels (7,900 m3) of ethanol stored and ready for distribution, so it decided to used as an oxygenate in substitution of MTBE. Nevertheless, retail sales of E7 continue uninterrupted in the trial regions of Guanacaste and the Central Pacific for three years now.

Ethanol as a fuel (from Wikipedia)
Ethanol fuel is ethanol (ethyl alcohol), the same type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. It is most often used as a motor fuel, mainly as a biofuel additive for gasoline. World ethanol production for transport fuel tripled between 2000 and 2007 from 17 billion to more than 52 billion litres. From 2007 to 2008, the share of ethanol in global gasoline type fuel use increased from 3.7% to 5.4%. In 2009 worldwide ethanol fuel production reached 19.5 billion gallons (73.9 billion litres).

Ethanol fuel is widely used in Brazil and in the United States, and together both countries were responsible for 86 percent of the world's ethanol fuel production in 2009.

Most cars on the road today in the U.S. can run on blends of up to 10% ethanol, and the use of 10% ethanol gasoline is mandated in some U.S. states and cities.

Since 1976 the Brazilian government has made it mandatory to blend ethanol with gasoline, and since 2007 the legal blend is around 25% ethanol and 75% gasoline (E25). In addition, by December 2010 Brazil had a fleet of 12 million flex-fuel automobiles and light trucks and over 500 thousand flex-fuel motorcycles regularly using neat ethanol fuel (known as E100).

Bioethanol, unlike petroleum, is claimed by certain advocates to be a form of renewable energy that can be produced from agricultural feedstocks. It can be made from very common crops such as sugar cane, potato, manioc and corn.

However, there has been considerable debate about how useful bioethanol will be in replacing gasoline. Concerns about its production and use relate to increased food prices due to the large amount of arable land required for crops, as well as the energy and pollution balance of the whole cycle of ethanol production, especially from corn.

Recent developments with cellulosic ethanol production and commercialization may allay some of these concerns.
Cellulosic ethanol offers promise because cellulose fibers, a major and universal component in plant cells walls, can be used to produce ethanol. According to the International Energy Agency, cellulosic ethanol could allow ethanol fuels to play a much bigger role in the future than previously thought.

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