If you are concerned about the damage to the environment caused by petrol fumes, or just want a cheaper alternative to petrol, why not think about making your own fuel to run in your car? With the world’s oil reserves rapidly running out, automotive technology in the United States is looking to adapt to the problem. Alcohol is a good alternative fuel choice. As well as offering better engine performance than petrol, it causes far less pollution. Alcohol can give the same number of miles per tank of fuel as petrol does, but with better acceleration. It is also a proven choice of fuel, as it has been used in the Indianapolis 500 for over eighty years.

More than two million cars in the United States have already been equipped with E85 technology. The E85 refers to the fact that the car runs on eighty-five per cent ethanol, with the remaining fifteen per cent being made up of gasoline. Very few of the owners of these cars will actually be aware that their car can run on alcohol, so it is worth checking the manual if in doubt.

However, at least thirty per cent of petrol in the United States actually uses alcohol in small amounts, alongside petrol, which is the main fuel source. This is known as unleaded premium petrol.

Making your own fuel from alcohol is not as difficult as it might seem, but it is still fairly challenging. While alcohol can be made easily, it is not quite so easy to make the kind of alcohol that can be used to fuel a car. To be used in a motor vehicle of any description, the alcohol needs to be between 180 and 190 per cent proof.  It is the equivalent of between ninety and ninety-five per cent pure alcohol, which is obviously a lot stronger than the alcohol drunk by the average person. The water content is between five and ten per cent, depending on the alcohol content.

Corn is usually the main crop for producing alcohol. It is popular because it can be fed to livestock after being used in the distilling process. However, grinding the corn will require a corn mill, as it is a big job. A coarse grind, such as corn grits, are suggested. It then needs water to be added, before being brought to the right temperature for the enzymes to be added. These are normally sold in huge bulk loads, but it is worth contacting companies that sell them to see if they will sell you smaller amounts of enzymes. Lastly, the water needs to be sieved to remove it. An enzyme called Zeolyle can be bought. This is granulated, so it will absorb water but it will not absorb the ethanol, as the molecules are too big. A 3A type is the best option, and is not too expensive.

Mix around 5 lbs worth into a 5 gallon can and leave it until the next morning. The ethanol will have become dehydrated, and it can now be poured through a screen into another can to filter it. To remove the water from the enzyme, you can leave it in the sun to dry by laying it on a tarp, or broiling it in a backyard grill. It can then be used again. You can check that the ethanol is definitely two hundred per cent proof by using a hydrometer. Any remaining water in the ethanol will separate out and sink to the bottom if mixed with gasoline. Once you are satisfied with the proof level, you can filter the ethanol through a fine screen to get rid of any remaining enzymes, as these will play havoc with your fuel filter.

ATF regulations mean that you need to add a small amount of gasoline (between two and five per cent) to denature any remaining alcohol that has not been used in the fuel process. This verifies that you are not creating the alcohol for drinking purposes.

Check your E85 owners' manual to make sure that your car has the relevant computer chip to be able to use alcohol as a fuel source. Experts recommend that you fill half of your tank with petrol, and then use the two hundred proof ethanol to fill the rest of the tank, as it may take a while for the computer chip to get used to the new fuel. They also suggest that you run a mixture of eighty-five per cent ethanol and fifteen per cent petrol in the summer, but switch to no more than fifty per cent ethanol in the winter. This will prevent engine problems when starting your engine when it is cold.

Experts predict that up to a fifth of cars in the United States will be fuelled by alcohol within the next ten years, so making the decision to fuel your car on alcohol now will put you one step ahead of everyone else.