Bioethanol is a fuel that is used in some countries as an alternative to petrol, either on its own or in a mixture with regular unleaded petrol. However, bioethanol is best known as a fuel for domestic heating, with bioethanol fireplaces becoming increasingly popular.

One of the main things that people find attractive about bioethanol, apart from the fact that it is a very convenient way to heat the home, is that it is environmentally friendly. It is renewable, biodegradable and hardly toxic if spilled - in fact, it is the same chemical as the alcohol in alcoholic drinks. But is bioethanol carbon neutral?

There are many things to consider when assessing whether a fuel for motor vehicles is carbon neutral, so the question is whether bioethanol is carbon neutral when used in this way. For simple domestic use in fireplaces, however, the carbon dioxide absorbed by the plants that grow to make the fuel largely offsets the CO2 produced when the bioethanol is burned, meaning it can be classified as a carbon-neutral fuel for domestic heating. When using a bioethanol fireplace, the amount of CO2 produced is comparable to burning a small number of candles.