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Trends Biotechnol. 1999 Dec;17(12):482-7.

Fuel ethanol after 25 years.

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  • 1Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Bath, Bath, UK BA2 7AY.


After 25 years, Brazil and North America are still the only two regions that produce large quantities of fuel ethanol, from sugar cane and maize, respectively. The efficiency of ethanol production has steadily increased and valuable co-products are produced, but only tax credits make fuel ethanol commercially viable because oil prices are at an all-time low. The original motivation for fuel-ethanol production was to become more independent of oil imports; now, the emphasis is on its use as an oxygenated gasoline additive. There will only be sufficient, low-cost ethanol if lignocellulose feedstock is also used.

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