Ethanol or ethyl alcohol is a complex carbon compound with many commercial and industrial uses. Of late though, as the clamor for green technology becomes intense and alternatives to fossil fuels are being looked for, ethanol has emerged as a viable, cheap and environment-friendly alternative to gasoline. A clean fuel (which means no carbon emissions are given out when it is burnt), ethanol is relatively easier to make, both commercially as well as for individual use and you not only save money on expensive and polluting gasoline, the government will also provide tax benefits and grants to encourage greater use of this fuel. Follow the instructions given below, very carefully, and you can make your own supply of ethanol to run your vehicles!
Understanding the process. Production of ethanol involves converting corn or other starch-bearing cereals such as wheat, soya bean, barley, rice or sorghum. As an alternative you can also use fruit, sugar or sugarcane to make ethanol since these have a heavy concentration of sugar which can be synthesized with the proper enzymes to convert into glucose. Other ingredients required during the process are alpha amylase and glucoamylase, which are enzymes, yeast, water, carbon, Zeolite and some unleaded gasoline. Equipment you will need includes a grain mill, a still, hydrometer, screen, funnel and some piping or tubing.
Getting started. Before you begin making ethanol, even if it is for your own use, you will need a permit from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Based on the annual production of ethanol, the permit can be free (less than 10,000 gallons); else you will need to pay the prescribed fees.
Milling the grain. First, crush or mill the grain into a coarse powder using the grain mill.
Liquefying the grain. Add water and the alpha amylase to convert the powder into mash, boil this mixture on high heat for about 30 minutes to kill-off any bacteria, fungus, or other microbes. Once the 30 minutes are up, remove the mixture from the heat and add the glucoamylase to it.
Fermentation. Add yeast to the mash, this process, depending on the sugar content and the percentage of pure alcohol you require, can take from a couple of hours to a full day.
Separation. Using the still, remove the alcohol from the water mix. Separation of the two liquids is made possible by the fact that alcohol and water have different boiling points.
Filtration. Pass the alcohol collected from the still through a carbon filter to remove any organic residue from the alcohol.
Drying. The ethanol extracted from the carbon filter process should be dried using Zeolite, which is a compound made up of aluminum and silica, which has the ability to removing both water and carbon dioxide from ethanol. Store the dehydrated ethanol in a can overnight. Next morning, transfer the ethanol into another container using a screen.
Mixing gasoline. Lastly, mix unleaded gasoline with the ethanol - the right combination will be about 15 percent gasoline and 85 percent ethanol. Check the percentage and strength of the ethanol with the help of a hydrometer. You may need to do a final round of filtering, since any water remaining in the ethanol will separate from the mixture when gasoline is added.
Making ethanol requires some hard work and initial expenditure in terms of the equipment and materials. It is also mandatory to make ethanol in a structure that is away from your place of residence, for example a detached garage or shed. Permits will be allotted only once such a confirmation is in place. E85 fuel, which is what we've manufactured with the above process, is a clean-burning fuel, which is available commercially for use in specialized Flex Fuel vehicles.