Ethanol with the molecular formula C2H6O is a clear, colorless, volatile liquid with a pleasant smell made by fermentation of sugar. Ethanol is one of many kinds of alcohol and is the only type of alcohol that can be consumed. Apart from consumption, ethanol is used for several other purposes such as fuel to power engines, as a disinfectant (because of its bactericidal activity), as a solvent and preservative as well as serving as the primary ingredient in the preparation of alcoholic beverages.

Ethanol (CH3CH2OH) is an alcohol, a group of chemical compounds whose molecules contain a hydroxyl group, –OH, bonded to a carbon atom. When an alcoholic beverage is consumed, it passes through the stomach into the small intestine where it is rapidly absorbed and distributed throughout the body. Alcohol cannot be stored in the body and therefore, the body must metabolize it to get rid of it. It can only be metabolized in the liver, where enzymes are found to initiate the process.

Ethanol is a mood-altering drug with both pleasant and unpleasant effects. It is a clear liquid that is made by the fermentation of different biological materials.

Ethanol is metabolized in the body to provide energy and does not have any minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, fats or protein associated with it and as a result of this, it directly contributes to malnutrition. General malnutrition is often reflected in body weight loss, mainly of adipose and muscle tissue.

Currently,  the  main  industrial  route  used  for  ethanol production  worldwide  is  the  microbiological  process,  also referred  as  alcoholic  or  ethanolic fermentation.

During this  process,  sugars  are  converted  into  ethanol,  energy,  cellular biomass,  CO2 and  other  byproducts  by  yeast  cells.  These sugars may come from different feedstock and crop wastes.

In  Brazil,  the  main  feedstock  is  sugarcane  while  the  United States  of  America  (USA)  produces  ethanol  from  corn. Sugarcane,  corn  and  sorghum  are  C4  plants  with  high  efficiency  to convert  atmospheric  CO2 and  water  into  sugars  and  polymers such  as  starch,  cellulose  and  hemicellulose  through  photosynthesis.  This  process  uses  sun  light  energy  to  fix  carbon and  release  oxygen  into  the  air. Then, all CO2 resulting from ethanol burning is recycled through photosynthesis, as shown in figure (1).

 

figure (1)

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