With the implementation of the EU Bio-fuel directive in 2003 it is required of member countries of the EU to add 5.75% Bio-fuel by 2010 to their fossil fuel consumption to lower carbon emissions by 8% below their 1990 emissions. South Africa has ratified the UNFCCC in 1997 and the Kyoto protocols in 2005, and although not bound by the same directives as the EU member states, has a large interest in reducing its emissions, being the largest single emitter in Africa. To this effect the government has granted an incentive in the form of a reduction in the fuel levy.
Bio-ethanol is produced from the starch component in renewable plant materials such as sugar cane, maize, sorghum, etc – the advantage of bio-ethanol therefore is that it is an endless energy source and by virtue of its oxygen component allows for better combustion of the fuel used, thereby allowing the burning process to have less residue.
The production processes, however, cannot achieve 100% pure ethanol (alcohol) as it forms an azeotropic mixture with water – the best azeotropic ratio achievable is 95.4% ethanol / 4.5% water.