Ethanol: Ethanol and Large-scale Ethanol Production Essay

Submitted By Southroper
Words: 966
Pages: 4

I am reporting on the chemical Ethanol. I have noticed over the past few years that our government is pushing for this staple to become the “go to” for alternative fuel. Unfortunately, history is repeating itself again, our government cannot come up with anything useful that’s not petroleum based or involves combining with other chemicals. Our country has been using Ethanol since before the civil war to power their daily living. It was also used to power some of the first vehicles. Ethanol is a natural occurring chemical, it has a basic molecular formula is C2H6O, and the molecular mass is 46.07g/mol. This is a colorless, nearly odorless, and sometimes burns with a smokeless blue flame not necessarily visible in natural lighting. This mildly toxic chemical whose toxicity is measured by the purity and amount absorbed. The use of ethanol can be dated back to over nine thousand years ago, dried residue was found on old pottery in China, but the discovery was not recorded until 1796 by Johann Tobias Lowitz when he obtained pure ethanol by mixing partially purified ethanol with an excess of anhydrous and then distilled the mixture over low heat. In 1807 Nicolas-Theodore de Saussure determined ethanol’s chemical formula. Ethanol has been around since nearly the beginning of time. During the Neolithic period, the caveman used to drink it as a recreational attribute. Today, you will find it used in the recreation of many of the earth’s residents. Whether made from the stills of moonshiners or from big business as ingredients for some of the finest drinks. Some other uses of this chemical are: fuel for engines, in thermometers, and as a solvent. Business Week’s definition of ethanol -“What exactly is ethanol; the fuel is derived from plants through a fairly straightforward process. In one common method Corn, is first ground into a fine powder, mixed with water, and then heated. An enzyme is then added to convert the mixture into sugars before yeast is added to ferment it. The resulting liquid, called "beer," is about 10% alcohol. A distillation process then separates the alcohol from the rest of the mixture before the remaining water is removed. The result is essentially pure alcohol. A small amount of gas is added to render the liquid undrinkable. Then the fuel can be used by itself or as a supplement to gasoline to power cars. Ethanol has three advantages, at least in theory: It's renewable, it can be domestically produced, and it burns cleaner than gas. The world's largest producers of ethanol are the U.S., which makes it primarily from corn, and Brazil, which mashes the stuff out of sugarcane” Bloomberg writes, of ethanol derived from plants including corn, wheat, barley and sugarcane. They also speak of the large government subsidies as an alternative fuel. “Ethanol for use as an industrial feedstock or solvent (sometimes referred to as synthetic ethanol) is made from petrochemical feed stocks, primarily by the acid-catalyzed hydration of ethylene, represented by the chemical equation C2H4 + H2O → CH3CH2OH The catalyst is most commonly phosphoric acid, adsorbed onto a porous support such as silica gel or diatomaceous earth. This catalyst was first used for large-scale ethanol production by the Shell Oil Company in 1947. The reaction is carried out with an excess of high pressure steam at 300 °C. In the U.S., this process was used on an industrial scale by Union Carbide Corporation and others; but now only LyondellBasell uses it commercially. “In an older process, first practiced on the industrial scale in 1930 by Union Carbide, but now almost entirely obsolete, ethylene was hydrated indirectly by reacting it with concentrated sulfuric acid to produce ethyl sulfate, which was hydrolysed to yield ethanol and regenerate the sulfuric acid” (Wiki) Some of the dangers…