Ethanol is hot stuff in Washington: It replaces oil and originates in electoral districts. It's basically the same alcohol found in liquor (with gasoline added), and too much in either form seems to cause people to lose their judgment.
To make it, whether in home stills or factories, cornmeal is put in vats with water and enzymes that convert some of the corn to sugar. Yeast added to the "mash" converts the sugar to alcohol. In a few days, the alcohol concentration tops 10 percent and the yeast goes inactive, having, ironically, rendered its own environment toxic.
Distillation increases the alcohol concentration: 50 percent is vodka, 95 percent is fuel. Alcohol vaporizes at a lower temperature than water, so heating the fermented mash turns the alcohol to vapor that collects on a cold condenser.
I built a glass demonstration still here to show how it works. You'd never actually use a glass pot or an open flame (glass can shatter under heat, and alcohol vapors are explosive). And since I don't have a federal distiller's license, there's no alcohol in mine. But if you have access to bushels of corn and you jump through the legal hoops, it is possible to make your own fuel.
A lot of ethanol plants are going up in the Midwest. Will they save the environment? Probably not. Depending on who you believe, it may take more than a gallon of oil to farm and process the corn required to make a gallon of ethanol. Switching to plant cellulose may someday improve efficiency; worst case, we'll have a lot of whiskey factories ready to go.
Time: 10 Days
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- Leftover corn stalks and husks provide the heat, improving the efficiency of the production process.
- The fire warms the mash: fermented corn, enzymes and yeast.
- Alcohol vapor rises through the distillation column, while water vapor condenses and drips back into the mash.
- Liquid alcohol condenses on the coils and drips out.
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Achtung! Concentrated muriatic acid is available in most hardware stores, but that doesn't mean it's harmless. It should never be handled by children, even under adult supervision. Work in a well-ventilated area, wear gloves and ANSI-approved splash-proof safety goggles at all times, and read and follow all other safety instructions on the bottle.
Since ethanol uses fossil fuel why would we put this junk in our car
#1)corn is old news
#2)the use of fossil fuels
#2A)answer NONE(maney ways to not have to use this)
#3)cellulose does not have to mean acid (there are much better ways such as with enzymes)
#4)transportation that use ethanol has been found to emmit around 90% less nox/co
#5)fossil fuels thats the junk ethanol clens the garbage out of your engine universities (MIT and others)have proven this and achived(with internaly stock engine)15% better fuel efficiency others have built from oil pan and acgived better Efficiencys then deisel
#6)gas is used to make the ethanol undrinkable (I personlly love to find out if Syrup of ipecac could be used)