Increasing amounts of bioethanol are being produced from fermentation of biomass, mainly to counteract the continuing depletion of fossil resources and the consequential escalation of oil prices. Today, bioethanol is mainly utilized as a fuel or fuel additive in motor vehicles, but it could also be used as a versatile feedstock in the chemical industry. Currently the production of carbon-containing commodity chemicals is dependent on fossil resources, and more than 95% of these chemicals are produced from non-renewable carbon resources. The question is: what will be the optimal use of bioethanol in a longer perspective? (c) 2007 Society of Chemical Industry.