ethanol plant

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Ethanol Plant

Ethanol, a biofuel that replaces or is added to fossil fuels, is a popular type of renewable energy, especially in the U.S. and Brazil. As production continues to grow, many people may be faced with the possibility of an ethanol plant being built in their area. As a relatively novel element on the landscape, the prospect of having an ethanol plant as a neighbor may become a cause of concern for some.

So far accidents recorded in ethanol plants are a rare occurrence, therefore from a safety point of view there doesnít seem to be any reason for serious concern. The plants do use hazardous materials such as anhydrous ammonia, sulfuric acid, sodium hydroxide and other types of substances whose use and storage are strictly regulated by environmental agencies. These materials are likely to be found in other existing production units in much larger quantities, though, so they are not exactly a new hazard.


In terms of air pollution, ethanol plants do have an impact as they give off a vapor whose harm can be mitigated by a device called thermal oxidizer. The level of air quality control will depend on how properly maintained equipment is, but itís possible that the plant will contaminate the air and maybe produce a foul odor which could be worsened depending on wind direction. People have complained of burning eyes and headaches when they live near ethanol plants.

Water is an issue as an ethanol plant requires a lot of it. Planners must take into account water availability before allowing a new plant to be built. The type of distillation technique used also has an impact on the type of waste water that will come out of the unit.

Finally, anyone living within a mile from a proposed ethanol plant should consult with local government regarding projected alterations in traffic density as heavy vehicles will start to circulate, increasing chances of accidents and noise. Besides, home owners must be aware that property prices may be affected so if an ethanol plant decides to settle nearby it may be wise to raise the issue with the proposer or local authorities.