Monday, February 2, 2009

Ethanol: How to Make Ethanol

While ethanol is a disaster, it's interesting to see the many people that look at it as a viable alternative energy and fuel, and search into how they can make ethanol on their own.

Regular ethanol has been extremely destructive to numerous small engine power equipment, and during the winter time we notice many of the snowmobiles, chainsaws and generators at the small engine repair shops as the alleged biofuel continues to destroy the parts and engines of the products, even though some proponents continue to pretend it's completely safe to use, while the equipment of ethanol users is destroyed, and in some cases becomes dangerous to use because of the potential consequences of getting stranded; as in the case of snowmobiles or motor boats.

Some even continue to claim the very expensive fuel and poor mileage (as far as it relates to vehicles) is inexpensive. But some studies have shown the price of gasoline would have to reach about $2.33 a gallon to be the equivalent of the high cost of ethanol.

So it can be understood why people that like to experiment and try things out would want to make their own ethanol for the purpose of accomplishing the task, it's hard to know why other than that someone would want to put it in any type of equipment they use.

Making ethanol is of course nothing new, as people have known how to make ethanol for a long time, using fermentation and the distillation of sugar and starch crops. Some of the obvious crops still used today to make ethanol are corn, cornstalks and sugar cane (in Brazil). Other crops used are potatoes, wheat and peelings from fruit and vegetables. Grass and wood chips or sawdust can be used as well, among many others.

It takes a lot of this stuff to even make one gallon of ethanol, as it takes about 10gallons of crops or other material to make a gallon of the fuel additive. So picture wanting about 10 gallons of the stuff. You'd have to have access to about 100 gallons of raw materials in order to make that much. It would take a ton of work just to gather that much together, even if someone was willing to give it to you to work with.

So what's the process on How to Make Ethanol?

To turn raw materials into ethanol, it requires five steps:


Whatever material you decide to use, it has to be converted by the sugars being broken down in the process. That's either done manually or by adding an enzyme.

In the fermentation part of the process, you're at the creation of alcohol stage, and so add yeast in a similar way you would if you were making wine.

The next stage in How to Make Ethanol is to use a still for the purpose of separation of the alcohol from the rest of the liquid. This is called Distillation.

For the next two steps you filtrate the liquid in order to remove the impurities in the liquid as well as the excess water remaining.

Materials needed to make ethanol:

A lidded plastic bucket or barrel

Because the liquid will start to ferment once the fruit or raw material is broken down, you should only fill it to about one-third full, or you'll end up with a messy overflow of the ethanol.

When using yeast, don't think in terms of the type you'd use for making bread. Rather, to make ethanol, us the type you would acquire from a store with supplies to make wine. That type of yeast is tolerant to ethanol.

Once you add the yeast to the mixture, use the hydrometer to measure the sugar content. Once you have that figure, cover up the barrel.

Simply let it sit for several days while checking the sugar content once a day. What you're looking for is the sugar content in the mixture to gradually decrease until there's zero sugar left in the ethanol. That will usually take about 10 days.

When that part of the process is completed, the mixture should be immediately distilled, or you risk damaging whatever equipment you might put the fuel into.

This could be an enjoyable experiment to have fun with, but doing this allows you to see the number of things involved with making ethanol, the high amount of inputs, and how a lot can go wrong with it while it's being made, which could damage your equipment.

In the end, it can be fun learning how to make ethanol, but I sure wouldn't really want to use it other than in something old to learn the damage it can cause.

No comments: