Why We Want To Understand The Chemistry Of Ethanol?
With the growing popularity of biofuels, more and more questions arise about them. Ethanol is one of the most common biofuels in use. Currently, there are many questions over the internet about it by many individuals and companies that want to join the revolution. First of all, ethanol is a biochemical compound so to start experimenting and working with it, you need to understand its chemistry of it. This is the exact purpose of this post. We gathered and answered many of the chemical questions that bother the ones who wish to work with it.
- The Ethanol Formula – C2H6O is the molecular formula of it. a nice explanation about this point with some images demonstrating the molecular 3D shape and the chemical bond could be found here. The ethanol chemical formula reveals to us some of its basic characteristics. It is an organic compound, you could understand it by the bond between Carbon Hydrogen, and Oxygen.
- Ethanol structure – the structural formula would be C2H5OH. The two carbon atoms are bonded with five atoms of hydrogen (H) and one group of hydroxyl (-OH) commonly found in alcoholic compounds.
- The molecular weight of ethanol – molecular weight is the property we typically measure in grams/mol. we also call it molar mass when talking about an entire mol. It describes the weight in grams a mol of molecules will have. In our case, the answer is Ethanol molar mass equals 46.07 G/Moll.
- Ethanol polarity – As we discussed before it consists of two parts, ethyl C2H5, and hydroxyl OH. The ethyl group is non-polar while the hydroxyl is very polar and forms hydrogen bonds. The combination of the two makes a polar molecule with a relative polarity of 0.65.
- Boiling point ethanol – The simple answer is 78 degrees Celsius (173 degrees Fahrenheit) this fact comes in handy in many processes of production for example distillation. Since usually when we produce it. it’s mixed with water which has a higher boiling point of 100 degrees Celsius. The lower boiling point ethanol bp have makes it easier to separate it from water.
- The freezing point / Ethanol Melting point – is at minus 114 degrees Celsius or minus 173 degrees Fahrenheit. Its freezing point of it is lower than the one of petroleum which is at minus 60 degrees Celsius. And we get another great benefit of mixing the two (like we do on e10 gas or e85 fuel which we will expand on later on in this article).
- The density of ethanol – density is a property that measures the ratio between the weight and volume of a substance. Volume changes with temperature and there for the density does as well. Ethanol density is 789 KG/M^3 at 20 degrees Celsius.
What Is Ethanol Made Of?
It is a form of alcohol so the simple answer will be a biological degrading of sugars. The alcohol from sugarcane or corn starch or any other sugary plant like fruits after fermentation is ethanol. The sugars are first extracted and then processed to consist of more primary sugar forms like glucose. Then mixed with yeast the fermentation process begins. The end of the chain we all know is alcohol.
What Can Ethanol Be Used For?
Ethanol is a very popular form of alcohol with countless uses. The cosmetics industry for example uses it as a preservative in creams and as a preparation for face cleaning. In your household, you could find it as a solvent in many products like wall paint and cleaning materials. In the food industry, we commonly use it as an extractor like the one we need to produce food coloring. A progressive approach may suggest taking natural sugar rich food leftovers such as fruit peels, in factories, and generating ethanol with them to power the process. This circular use of leftovers can dramatically decrease the energetic intake of food manufacturing.
Ethanol As A Biofuel
Ethanol is a renewable blending agent widely used as an additive to petroleum mixes. chemicalsafetyfacts.org indicate that 98% of USA gasoline is mixed with ethanol. There are many benefits to mixing petroleum with ethanol like higher octane levels that increase the durability of engines and make the combustion process more environmentally friendly. It lowers carbon monoxide levels in regular petroleum combustion which is a dangerous gas both to the climate and human health as one.
According to the US department of energy, there are three commonly used mixes of ethanol and petroleum.
- E10 – a mixture made of 10% ethanol, from which we derive the name. The use of it is picking since the 1990s its suitable for any petroleum engine.
- E15 – a mixture made of 10.5-15% ethanol, is suitable for the use of newer vehicles usually after 2001 models.
- E85 – also called flex fuel is a mixture containing mostly ethanol, typically 50-80%. This biofuel is suitable only for engines we plan to use it. With its growing popularity, we will likely see more and more of those in the next few years.
The Hazards Of Ethanol
As a chemical that we use for fuel, it is an extremely flammable one. That makes it fantastic for octane levels in fuel mixtures but also makes it dangerous to work with. When working with it make sure to follow fire prevention regulations of your country and to take precautions. Most labs that produce it are more aware of its dangerous nature of it. This can be dangerous for the in-home-producer, so make sure to put extra taught into a safe working environment.
Another hazard of it is inhalation, so when working with it consider using a facemask and to keep the space ventilated. For the home, small-scale producers maybe work on it in your yard or some other open space.
In any case, if starting to feel dizzy or disoriented while working with ethanol it’s a red light telling you to go out and breathe some fresh air. If the sensation is not passing after breathing some fresh air for half an hour you should go to receive medical treatment.
To learn more about the safety hazards and the way to deal with them, including what to do in case of excessive exposure we attach this safety fact shit. If you don’t have prior experience working with chemicals going over the fact shit before starting is always a good safety recommendation.
Ethanol is an easy and cheap-to-produce chemical that could be very useful in our fight for a more sustainable world. We can use it as an energy source for electricity production and vehicle fueling. We can produce it at home or in a lab and from many sources of sugar like sugar cane and corn as well as fruits. It’s versatile and available which is a fundamental reason we can apply it for so many uses. We highly recommend you learn more about it since it’s going to be one of the leading players in our eco-friendly future.