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Abigail V. Duque*, Fallen Grace E. Dela Paz, Zyren P. Galarosa, Felix E. Galizdo Jr. Department of Biology, College of Science
*Corresponding author; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
This experiment aimed to separate and calculate in percentage the alcohol content of a commercial alcoholic beverage by means of fractional distillation. Twenty milliliters of rum, with a proof of 72, and 36% alcohol content, underwent fractional distillation. An amount of 0.5 ml of distillate was collected in each test tube until the temperature reached 100. The volume of distillate collected was 15 ml, with an ethanol volume of 14 ml, giving a percentage ethanol of 70%. The large margin of error may have been caused by the inaccurate test tube calibration, tightly wrapped aluminum foil in the fractionating column, or the inconstant and fast distillation rate. Keywords: ethanol/ethyl alcohol, alcoholic fermentation, distillation, boiling point
Alcoholic beverages play an important part in daily life. Moderate consumption in a social environment is seen as a benefit for both body and soul. There is a great variety of alcoholic beverages for people to enjoy, something to suit almost everyone for almost every occasion (Buglass, 2011). However, despite having different types of alcoholic beverages, they all share a common base, ethanol or ethyl alcohol, an intoxicating psychoactive drug and the main alcohol component found in alcoholic beverages. Ethanol is developed naturally as a by-product of fermentation, a process wherein microorganisms consume sugars that are present. Compared to other alcohols, such as methanol, ethylene glycol, ethanol is non-toxic to humans (Booley, 2000). The foundation of all alcoholic beverages is fermentation, more specifically, alcoholic fermentation. As previously mentioned, this is a process wherein microorganisms convert sugars to carbon dioxide and ethanol, recovering less of the energy stored in the substrate molecules. The sugar may come from different food substances depending on the alcoholic beverage. In wine, sugar comes from grapes; in rum, sugar comes from sugarcane; in beer, sugar comes from barley; and in vodka sugar comes from potatoes. Different kinds of fungi and microorganisms are able to promote conversion of sugar to ethanol, however these fungi are often able to give certain qualities on beverages by producing characteristic flavors, and thus contributing to the vast diversity of alcoholic beverages. However, fermentation caused by fungi or bacteria can bring undesirable influences on the aroma and flavor of the beverages, however these are usually suppressed in favor of the action of desirable microorganisms by the use of antiseptics and preservatives (Buglass, 2011). Alcoholic beverages contain different amounts of ethanol. Beer has an estimated amount of 6% ethanol, wine has 15% ethanol, and some hard alcoholic beverages have as high as 60% ethanol. The percentage of ethanol in an alcoholic beverage is referred to as proof. Alcohol proof is twice the alcohol content or percentage (Booley, 2000). Alcohols affect living organisms profoundly, due to the fact that they act as lipid solvents. Alcohols ability to dissolve lipids out of the cell membrane allows them to penetrate rapidly into cells, destroying cell structure, and thereby killing the cell. Thus is the reason why the moment an alcoholic beverage enters the body it is easily absorbed by the walls of the stomach, reaching the brain in a matter of minutes (Whitney & Roles, 2008). Those who consume excessive amounts of alcoholic beverages and fail to take care of the nutritional and physical needs of the body may face a wide range of organ system disorders such as ulcer, inflammation of the pancreas, and liver cirrhosis; blackouts, hallucinations, and extreme tremors may also be experienced if the central and peripheral...