The products

Ethers and methanol: oxygenated fuels for a cleaner world

High-octane alkyl ethers MTBE (Methyl Ter-Butyl Ether) and ETBE (Ethyl Ter-Butyl Ether)

Eni was the first company in the world to introduce an oxygenated compound like MTBE, an alkyl ether with high octane properties, into petrol in a systematic way, marketing it under the acronym “BD-1” (Black Dog 1) to recall the company's logo.

The technology for the production of MTBE was developed by Eni in its research laboratories and, through in-house technological know-how, it was successfully brought to industrial level by building the Ecofuel plant in the petrochemical plant in Ravenna. Ecofuel’s plant started operations in 1973 and it was the first example in the world of a plant for the production of MTBE. In 2023 it has reached the 50-year mark.

In the 1990s, in accordance with the changes in legislation associated with greater concern for the environment and the improvement of air quality, Ecofuel modified the Ravenna plant layout to allow it to produce the sustainable ether ETBE, which, by replacing methanol with ethanol, allows compounds from renewable sources, that do not require changes to fuel formulations or their distribution network, to be used as petrol components.

We work to improve air quality

Alkyl ethers are key components of petrol worldwide. By enabling the elimination of toxic lead-based compounds, they have made a major contribution to the ongoing process of improving the quality of petrol to meet increasingly strict emission standards. The addition of ethers results both in an improvement in the octane characteristics of petrol and in a reduction in emissions of CO, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds and unburnt hydrocarbons.

In the near future, in order to further contribute to the decarbonization of transport, raw materials with an increasingly smaller carbon footprint will be used, such as second-generation ethanol obtained from non-food biomass (agri-business), renewable alcohols of non-organic origin (e-methanol) or from waste (bio- and low-carbon methanol), and hydrocarbon bases of organic origin.


Methanol is the simplest of alcohols and has historically been used mainly to synthesise commonly used chemical compounds and finished products such as paints, adhesives, synthetic fibres, plastic and solvents.

In recent years, its use as an energy carrier has become increasingly important, as it is the liquid fuel with the lowest carbon content, which allows a reduction in harmful emissions (reduction of CO2 and nitrogen oxide emissions, elimination of sulphur oxides and particulate matter) and can be used as a replacement for traditional fossil fuels without any particular problems.

In some innovative fields, methanol has begun to be used as a fuel in power or heat generators (furnaces, burners, dryers, boilers), ship engines and Fuel Cells.

Ecofuel expects an increase in the use of sustainable methanol (bio-methanol, e-methanol and methanol from recycled carbon) in both the energy and chemical sectors.