Bioethanol is a fuel made by fermenting the sugars naturally occurring in certain plant species and then distilling the resulting alcohol. This means that it is an alcohol-based fuel. In fact, bioethanol is the same chemical as the ethanol found in alcoholic beverages such as wine, beer and spirits. As a fuel, the energy in bioethanol is released through combustion. Combustion releases heat energy as well as water vapour and CO2.

Bioethanol is used as a fuel for cars, but also as a fuel for home use, such as for fireplaces and lanterns at home. Cars can run on blends of bioethanol and petrol, such as E10, the fuel most commonly found at the pump in the UK, without any engine modifications. E10 contains 10% of bioethanol, and the rest is unleaded petrol. For open fires, garden fireplaces and camping stoves, bioethanol is sold in the form of bottles of denatured alcohol. These are used by simply pouring the bioethanol liquid into the burner and lighting it. Because bioethanol produces a real flame and no smoke, it is a flexible fuel to use for home fireplaces where no chimney is needed.