Ethanol | Properties | Uses | Other Details - Elements and Compounds


Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Ethanol | Properties | Uses | Other Details

Ethanol Properties Uses and Other Details

    What is Ethanol

    Ethanol is also called alcohol, it is also known as ethyl alcohol and grain alcohol. Ethanol is an organic chemical compound, its chemical formula is CH3-CH2-OH or C2H6OH. A molecule of ethanol is made up of 2 atoms of carbon, 6 atoms of hydrogen and one molecule of hydroxide with a negative charge. Ethanol is a highly flammable liquid, which is made from sugar or starch obtained from plants.
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    Ethanol Properties Uses and Other Details

    Properties of Ethanol

    • Ethanol is a colourless, transparent and highly flammable liquid with a slight odour.
    • It has a pungent taste and is easily soluble in water and many other organic liquids.
    • Ethanol is soluble in lighter hydrocarbons like pentane and hexane etc.
    • Ethanol is found in liquid state at normal temperature, its melting point is -114.1 °C, that is, ethanol is found in solid state at temperatures below -114.1 °C. Its boiling point is 78.37 °C.
    • It evaporates very rapidly when exposed to air.
    • When it comes in contact with our skin, ethanol evaporates quickly by absorbing heat from the skin, so it appears cool to the touch.
    • Ethanol has a density of 0.789 grams per cubic centimeter, so it is lighter than water.
    • On burning ethanol, it burns as a smokeless blue flame, which is almost invisible in daylight.
    • The flash point of ethanol is 13 °C, that is, the vapor of ethanol catches fire at a minimum temperature of 13 °C.
    • When some amount of ethanol is added to water, the surface tension of water decreases to a great extent.
    • Ethanol going into our body reduces mental stress to some extent and increases feelings of happiness. But consuming it in excess can lead to shortness of breath, low blood pressure, heart problems, liver damage and even death.
    • Ethanol is not soluble in oily substances.
    • Ethanol reacts with sodium metal to form hydrogen gas and sodium-ethoxide (C2H5ONa).
    • Ethanol is considered a very good solvent, many compounds that do not dissolve in water dissolve easily in ethanol.

    Uses of ethanol

    • The most important use of ethanol at present is as a fuel for vehicles. Ethanol is a flammable liquid, it can be easily mixed with air like petrol to make a fuel mixture. Vehicles can be run very easily by burning this fuel mixture in the internal combustion engine. Ethanol is made from sugar or starch obtained from plants, so it is also cheaper than petrol, and it is also much less polluting than petrol. That's why nowadays production of ethanol is being encouraged in many countries including India. Ethanol is derived from plants, so it is also a renewable energy source.
    • Some light rockets use ethanol as a fuel along with liquid oxygen.
    • Ethanol is a very good bactericide, it is effective against most bacteria, fungi, fungal and viruses. It destroys the lipid boiler membrane of microorganisms and denatures their proteins, due to which the microorganisms get destroyed. That's why ethanol is used in making disinfectant liquid, antiseptics and sanitizers.
    • Ethanol is used as an antimicrobial preservative in many medicines.
    • Ethanol is used in mouthwashes, tinctures, decongestants, pain relievers, and many other medicines.
    • Ethanol is used to make alcohol.
    • Ethanol is used in products such as paints, markers, perfumes, deodorants.
    • Ethanol is also used in thermometers measuring very low temperatures.
    • The freezing point of ethanol is much lower than that of water, so laboratories use it with dry ice to store objects at temperatures below the freezing point of water.

    How is ethanol made

    Ethanol is obtained from plants, there are many crops from which ethanol can be produced like corn, sugarcane, wheat, rice, potato, bamboo etc. 

    First of all, any crop like maize, wheat or rice straw (part of the crop left after removing wheat or rice grains), sugarcane waste (waste left after making sugar from sugarcane) etc. All these are finely ground, due to which their starch comes out, then this mixture is heated by mixing water and enzymes in it. Due to this the starch of this mixture gets broken down into sugar. 

    After this the mixture is left to cool, after cooling yeast is added to this mixture. Yeast breaks down the sugars present in the mixture into carbon dioxide and ethanol, a process called fermentation. 

    The fermentation process takes 4 to 5 days to complete, during which time carbon dioxide is released from the mixture into the atmosphere and ethanol remains with the rest of the mixture. 

    This residual mixture consists of water, crop fraction and ethanol. The mixture is filtered to separate the mixture of water and ethanol. Ethanol vaporizes at a lower temperature than water, so pure ethanol is obtained by distillation by heating this mixture.

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