You may have already heard about 'bio stoves', which have become the new, clean and cosy alternative to wood burning stoves. With more people spending more time at home, British homeowners say they are more likely to use a fireplace or stove at home in winter than in previous years, according to the Burn Better campaign, which is supported by the government and aims to help us enjoy fireplaces and stoves in our homes more safely. However, with growing environmental concerns, people are increasingly worried that using logs and other traditional fuels to heat their homes with a fire could lead to more pollution indoors and in the environment. As a result, bioethanol fireplaces are becoming more commonplace.
Here's what you need to know about bioethanol fuel and bioethanol fireplaces.
What is bioethanol made of?
Bioethanol fuel, also known as biofuel, is a sustainable alternative to traditional logs and gas. It is made from crops such as corn and sugar cane. It generates no harmful sparks, gases or soot, and therefore produces a smoke-free and extremely clean form of heat that is perfect for use in the home. When used as a heating fuel, bioethanol is extremely environmentally friendly, producing approximately the same carbon dioxide emissions compared to lighting a candle.
Where does bioethanol come from and how is it made?
Bioethanol is made in four basic steps: fermentation, distillation, dehydration and denaturation. Some crops require saccharification or hydrolysis of carbohydrates such as starch or cellulose to sugars before fermentation. The steps include:
Ethanol is produced by microbial fermentation of sugar, which forms cellulose and starch - two major plant components. Currently, only the starch and sugar can be economically converted into sugars for fermentation.
To make ethanol suitable for use as fuel, the water must be removed. This is usually done by distillation.
The most common method of purification for the dehydration process is a physical absorption process using aids such as a molecular sieve. It can also be done by azeotropic distillation, which is achieved by adding the hydrocarbon benzene, which will also denature the ethanol. Finally, it can also be done by using calcium oxide as a drying agent.
How do you make bioethanol at home?
It is possible to produce bioethanol at home, and there are many people who do this for their own use. Most people who make bioethanol at home choose a homemade "distillation flask" for the production process, but if you don't have experience, it can be difficult to get a consistent proof.
What are the benefits of having a Bioethanol fireplace in your home?
Along with creating an instant feature in your room with dancing flames, another key benefit of using bioethanol fuel for a fire in your home is that it does not require a chimney or flue unlike gas, wood, and other solid fuels. This is good news for homeowners who don't have a chimney at home or are concerned about the increase in chimney fires that have occurred recently due to the accumulation of flammable tar in chimneys in the UK. With a bioethanol fireplace, there is no risk of this happening. Some other great benefits of choosing a bioethanol fireplace are:
Unlike traditional wood fires or gas fires, bioethanol fires are very environmentally friendly and do not emit smoke or harmful particles into the air, making them much healthier alternatives for you and your family. This can be a bonus for people who suffer from respiratory conditions or allergies and who may be particularly affected by a traditional fire in their home.
Another important benefit of a bioethanol fireplace is that you can place one wherever you want. Because they don't require a chimney or flue, you can place your bioethanol fireplace anywhere in the room where it will look best and give off the most heat, or you can place it in a fireplace even if the chimney is no longer functional, meaning it's much less work to get a fire in your home compared to reopening the chimney and installing a new flue for a wood fire. Some fireplace models are portable and suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, and there is no mess or ash involved.
No power required:
With a bioethanol fireplace, you don't need to connect gas or electricity to the fire, which can make it a great way to heat your home while reducing monthly bills. Bioethanol fuel is quite cost-effective at around £2.50 per litre on average, although this can vary depending on the type of fuel and brand you choose. You can also buy bioethanol in bulk to save even more money. A litre of fuel takes a minimum of four hours to burn, but can last twice as long if you set the fire to the minimum rather than maximum setting.
Are there any disadvantages to bioethanol?
While a bioethanol fireplace might be the first choice for you if you want more flexibility, no clutter, and an eco-friendly fire option for your home, there are some drawbacks worth considering before investing in one. Compared to wood, for example, bioethanol is often more expensive, and it shouldn't be completely relied upon to heat your home. In addition, unlike gas fireplaces that come on immediately, you'll usually have to wait about fifteen to twenty minutes before your bioethanol fire fully kicks in. You will also have to wait some time for the fire to cool down after the jerry can becomes empty to refill it with fuel. If you want the cozy atmosphere of a real fire in your home, but don't want the mess or negative environmental effects of traditional wood stoves, a bioethanol fireplace may be the ideal choice for you.