Ethanol Filtration Systems: Everything You Need To Know

Ethanol Filtration Systems: Everything You Need To Know

For years, the world has experienced global warming due to increased CO2 settling on the earth’s atmosphere causing global temperatures to rise. Fortunately, introducing Ethanol is a way to reduce CO2 production in cars, one of the main culprits of CO2 emissions.

Ethanol is a biofuel, harvested from grains like corn or wheat, that is used as an additive to gasoline. The purpose of implementing ethanol into gasoline is to reduce the amount of CO2 the vehicle emits. According to the U.S Department of Energy, using ethanol in cars has reduced the earth’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) by 40%.

This post will overview what ethanol is and the process to filter it into a usable biofuel.

The Ethanol Production and Filtration Process

Ethanol is a renewable resource that is manufactured from crops such as wheat and corn through the process of fermentation and distillation. Its production involves three main steps:


The crops pass through a dry milling process where the corn or wheat is hammered down to a powder. Next, enzymes and hot water are added to the powder to break down the starch into sugar. Afterward, another enzyme called glucoamylase is introduced to break down the sugars into glucose.

 During this process, the yeast converts sugar into ethanol in three main ways:

  • By adding yeast to sugar in a liquid form.
  • By mixing yeast with dry sugar and water to create an alcoholic beverage.
  • By combining yeast with water, fermentation acids, and brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae).
Chemical testing equipment

The fermentation efficiency depends on the particle size distribution and the available surface area (pore size).

Once fermentation is complete, the CO2 gas is captured and recycled for use as dry ice. The fermentation process produces enzymes for manufacturing other products such as plastics, textiles, and paints.

Ethanol Filtration

Next, the fermented solution is forced through membrane filters to remove the yeast from the liquid. After the liquid is retrieved, it is passed through a filter that separates any solids that may still be present. Thanks to the filtration process, the filtrate has no solid impurities. The filtrate is an aqueous solution that contains:

  • Water 
  • Amino acids
  • Sugars
  • Organic molecules

The aqueous solution is then re-fermented with yeast by adding sugar to the mixture. The yeast metabolizes these sugars into ethanol and carbon dioxide as a byproduct of metabolism. The solution contains about 90% water, 10% ethanol, and 0.1% carbon dioxide.

Some factors that can hinder the ethanol filtration process include:

  • Presence of high sugar concentrations. If this is present, re-fermentation is done to break down sugars into ethanol.
  • Bacterial contamination.
  • Inconsistent temperature – Changes in temperature can slow down the process.


The ethanol goes through a heated distillation system to remove water molecules from the liquid. Since ethanol has a lower boiling point than water (78 °C, 173.1° F), it vaporizes first and is collected once the vapor condenses back to a liquid.


The final step involves a high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) test to confirm the purity of the ethanol. An HPLC test is crucial to avoid complications since contaminated ethanol has a higher electric charge that can cause problems in car engines.

The result is pure ethanol that uses less energy than gasoline while still being able to power all types of vehicles!

Materials Used To Filter Ethanol

Materials used in Ethanol Filtration Process

Let’s examine the ethanol filtration equipment that makes the filtration process successful. The most critical materials in the ethanol filtration systems are the membrane filters and the distillation columns.

Distillation column – These columns separate ethanol from water during the distillation process.

Membrane filters/Ethanol filters – The filters effectively remove 99% of organic solvents in an ethanol filtrate. Membrane filters are also small in size and need little maintenance. 

 Other materials in the ethanol filtration system include:

  • Copper piping
  • Metals such as stainless steel and aluminum
  • Rubber hoses
  • PVC pipes

The Role of Filters in Ethanol Filtration Systems

Ethanol filters work by trapping pollutants within the filter media. The benefits of using an ethanol filter over other types of filters include:

  • They are effective at removing small and intermediate size pollutants
  • Ethanol filters can trap and remove toxins and volatile organic compounds
  • They are easy to maintain and operate
  • Ethanol filters are effective in removing contaminants from synthetic and natural gas

The materials used in ethanol filters include fiber, cotton, and activated carbon.

Hollow fiber filters – These consist of bundled fibers wrapped in a layer of paper or plastic. The pores of the threads are small enough to allow ethanol molecules to pass through.

Cotton filters – These are large loops of cotton that are placed over a filter media. The pores of the cotton filter allow small molecules, such as ethanol to pass through it, and the solid pollutants remain on the cotton.

Activated carbon filters – The filters have loose pieces of activated carbon. These pieces are filled with a liquid filter medium and pollutant solution. It is then attached to the side or the bottom of a water tower. The carbon in the filter draws the contaminants out of the solution and absorbs them.

Combating Moisture in a Baghouse– A successful filtration system prevents moisture from building up in the baghouse while air is being filtered. Even a small amount of moisture can cause big problems such as rust and corrosion and plugged filter media so it is imperative that the filter is able to keep moisture at bay. This is often addressed by using oleophobic material. Oleophobic material, as the name suggests, repels oil.

Final Thoughts

Ethanol filtration systems are crucial to businesses that produce or sell ethanol-based products. These systems remove impurities, such as water, sulfates, and chlorine, from the ethanol.

At Filter Holdings, we are among the leading manufacturers and distributors of high-performance industrial filtration products in the U.S.

Let us simplify your ethanol filtration process by providing you with premium filters. With over 70 years of experience, you can expect the best from us. You can find more information about ethanol filtration systems and industry-leading fabric filters by visiting our website.


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