Ethanol the Fuel of the Future

Topics: Yeast, Ethanol, Carbon dioxide Pages: 11 (3335 words) Published: June 16, 2011
Research will be done and two experiments will be conducted to evaluate ethanol as a fuel, the experiments are Fermentation and Calorimetry. Fermentation will find the best combination of sugar and yeast for optimum ethanol production and the Calorimetry experiments test ethanol against other alcohols and fuels to see how it matches up in terms of energy production. Fermentation shows glucose and baker’s yeast as the fastest producers of ethanol and the calorimetry proves that ethanol and other alcohols produce more heat energy than other fuels.

Due to rising oil prices and rapid climate change, countries around the world are looking desperately for alternatives to crude oil products that could serve the worlds growing fuel needs. Many solutions have been scrutinized and some have shown the potential to replace non-renewable fuels like diesel and petroleum products in the future, These renewable fuels are known as biofuels. This extended Investigation will consider one biofuel in particular, Ethanol; its production methods, energy output, and its pros and cons. Ethanol, is also known as ethyl alcohol, or pure alcohol, is a flammable,(mixtures of ethanol and water above 50 percent ethanol or above are very flammable, some cooking methods use wine that’s pored on a hot pan and the ethanol evaporates quickly and the vapour is ignited causing a bright orange flame. It is a colourless liquid that is very volatile, it evaporates quickly because the carbon parts of ethanol can't hydrogen bond, therefore its hydrogen bond isn’t as strong as water and so it evaporates faster ( Its latent heat of vaporisation is 846 kJ/kg while water’s is 2257 kJ/kg. It is also the most common type of alcohol used in alcoholic beverages. Its molecular formula is C2H5OH and it also has the empirical formula C2H6O. It is a very miscible solvent which means it is a very versatile solvent, able to mix evenly with water and other liquids. It is a straight chain alcohol, An alternative notation is CH3–CH2–OH, which indicates that the carbon of a methyl group (CH3–) is attached to the carbon of a methylene group (–CH2–), which is attached to the oxygen of a hydroxyl group (OH).( Key properties that are involved on ethanol’s production and use as a fuel are: it’s molar mass, 46.07 g mol-1; density – 0.789 g cm-3 (compared to the density of water at 1.00g cm-3) and its boiling point at 78⁰C. The presence of hydrogen bonding in its hydroxyl group also makes pure ethanol very hygroscopic, more viscous and less volatile than other organic compounds of similar molecular weight.

Production Methods
Ethylene hydration

Ethanol to be used as an industrial feedstock or solvent is most often made from petrochemical feedstocks like, and it is typically produced by the acid-catalyzed hydration of ethylene (C2H4), the most produced organic compound in the world ( The hydration of ethylene is represented by the chemical equation C2H4(g) + H2O(g) → CH3CH2OH(l).

The acid catalyst used in ethylene hydration is most commonly phosphoric acid (H3PO4), which is adsorbed (clings onto the surface) of porous supports such as diatomaceous earth or charcoal; phosphoric acid was first used for large-scale ethanol production by the Shell Oil Company in 1947.(T.Psingh, 2006) Fermentation

The process starts by milling feedstock such as sugar cane, field corn, then adding dilute sulphuric acid or amylase enzymes to break down the milled grains into complex sugars, commonly known as starches. Then Glucoamylase (An enzyme that breaks the bonds near the ends of large carbohydrates) is added to break the complex sugars into simple sugars such as those in the group Monosaccharide, eg. glucose and fructose. ( After this, yeasts like Saccharomyces cerevisiae are added to to convert the simple sugars to ethanol, by fermentation, this mixture is then distilled off to obtain up to 96 % ethanol in...
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