Ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol is typically manufactured by synthesis from ethylene or produced from bio-based feedstock like sugar cane, corn, sugar beet, wheat and other crops with high sugar or starch contents. It is an oxygenated hydrocarbon used in a wide variety of high performance solvent applications (toiletries and cosmetics, paints, lacquer thinners, printing inks, dyes, detergents, disinfectants and pharmaceuticals), as a chemical raw material for the production of a range of monomers and solvents, and is essential in pharmaceutical purification.

In transportation, ethanol is used as a vehicle fuel by itself, blended with petrol, or as a petrol octane enhancer and oxygenate.