What is the Difference Between Ethanol and Bioethanol

Ethanol and bioethanol are two related terms often used interchangeably, but they have distinct differences. Bioethanol is a type of ethanol. However, both bioethanol and ethanol are commonly used as fuels.

What is the difference between ethanol and bioethanol? Ethanol is produced from various sources (chemical and biological), whereas bioethanol is produced from biological sources.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Ethanol  
      – Definition, Features
2. What is Bioethanol
      – Definition, Features 
3. Similarities Between Ethanol and Bioethanol
      – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Ethanol and Bioethanol
      – Comparison of Key Differences
5. FAQ: Ethanol and Bioethanol
      – Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Key Terms

Ethanol, Bioethanol

Difference Between Ethanol and Bioethanol - Comparison Summary

What is Ethanol

Ethanol is a volatile organic compound with two carbon atoms. It is an alcohol with the chemical formula C2H5OH. Ethanol is a hydrocarbon chain bonded to a hydroxyl group (OH).  This hydroxyl group governs ethanol’s properties. Ethanol is an excellent solvent that is used to dissolve polar molecules like sugar. This solvent property is due to the ability of ethanol to form hydrogen bonds with water. It can be naturally produced through the fermentation of sugars by yeast or bacteria. This process is the foundation of alcoholic beverages like beer, wine, and spirits. Alternatively, ethanol can be synthetically derived from ethylene, a petroleum byproduct.

Ethanol takes part in many reactions in chemistry. It undergoes combustion releasing heat. It is useful as a biofuel. Dehydration removes a water molecule from ethanol, creating ethylene. Ethanol reacts with organic acids to form esters.


There are many uses of ethanol. It can be mainly used as a fuel. When it is blended with gasoline, it helps reduce carbon monoxide emissions from vehicles. Ethanol is also used to dissolve many substances; thus, it is used in the manufacture of paints, coatings, cleaning products, and personal care items like perfumes and lotions.

What is Bioethanol

Bioethanol is a renewable source of energy made by fermenting the sugars and starches found in plants. It is a form of ethanol produced using biological routine. Common sources for bioethanol production include sugarcane, corn, wheat, and even waste materials like straw. This fermentation process utilizes microorganisms, typically yeast, to convert these plant materials into ethanol and carbon dioxide.

Bioethanol is mostly useful as a fuel in transportation. It is sometimes used in its pure form as a fuel or is mixed with gasoline. It is a form of renewable resource as it originates from plants. When burned in an engine, it releases fewer harmful emissions compared to gasoline.

Similarities Between Ethanol and Bioethanol

  1. Both ethanol and bioethanol have the same molecular structure and properties.
  2. They are chemically identical.

Difference Between Ethanol and Bioethanol


  • Ethanol is an alcohol with the chemical formula C2H5OH. Bioethanol refers specifically to ethanol produced from renewable biomass sources, such as crops, agricultural residues, or even organic waste.


  • The production process for ethanol involves fermenting sugars from plant materials, followed by distillation to purify the ethanol. Bioethanol production follows a similar process, but it uses renewable biomass sources, like crops, agricultural residues, or organic waste.

Environmental Impact

  • There are some concerns about the environmental impact of ethanol, especially regarding land use change, water consumption, and competition with food crops. However, bioethanol helps to mitigate some of the environmental concerns associated with traditional ethanol production.


In conclusion, while ethanol and bioethanol share the same molecular structure and chemical properties, their production methods differ significantly. Ethanol is derived from various sources, including both biological and chemical processes, whereas bioethanol is specifically produced through biological means, typically by fermentation of plant sugars.

FAQ: Ethanol and Bioethanol

1. Is bioethanol the same as ethanol?

Bioethanol is ethanol (C2H5OH), or ethyl alcohol, produced by biological methods. Hence, ethanol and bioethanol are chemically identical.

2. What is the difference between bioethanol and synthetic ethanol?

Bioethanol and synthetic ethanol are chemically indistinguishable—they are both the same compound. But their origin is different. Synthetic bioethanol comes from fossil raw materials, and bio-ethanol comes from contemporary materials.

3. What are the advantages of bioethanol?

Advantages of bioethanol as a biofuel include the presence of properties such as high octane number (108), low boiling point, higher heat of vaporization, and comparable energy content.

4. Is bioethanol a clean fuel?

Yes. Bioethanol is a cleaner fuel when compared to other fuel types. As it produces only heat, steam and carbon dioxide, it causes very little harm to the environment.

5. Is ethanol flammable?

Yes. It is a highly flammable compound. It is a highly flammable liquid that can ignite easily when exposed to a flame, spark, or heat source. Therefore, it should be handled and stored with caution to prevent accidents or fires.


1. “Ethanol.” Encyclopedia Britannica.
2. “Bioethanol – An Overview.” Science Direct.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Common ethanol fuel mixtures” By Hanskeuken – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasini A

Hasini is a graduate of Applied Science with a strong background in forestry, environmental science, chemistry, and management science. She is an amateur photographer with a keen interest in exploring the wonders of nature and science.

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