A Guidebook to Ethanol
Ethanol, Ethyl Alcohol, Extra Neutral Alcohol, Neutral Spirit or Pure Alcohol is a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid with a slight odour, having alcoholic content ranging from 80% - 99.9%, and the molecular formula C2H5OH. Pure Alcohol is also commonly referred to as Undenatured Ethanol from a terminology perspective.
Since alcohol consumption as beverage is heavily regulated and taxed, additives are mixed with Ethanol to make it undrinkable and in order to circumvent the taxation, transport, and several regulatory measures. Such Ethanol is referred to as Denatured Ethanol which has many industrial applications and usage as fuel.
Bittering agents such as methanol, isopropyl alcohol, acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, methyl isobutyl ketone and denatonium are common additives used to denature Ethanol. The process does not chemically alter the ethanol molecule.
Ethanol is azeotropic composition of water and alcohol, dependent on temperature and pressure. Hydrous (or wet) ethanol is the most concentrated grade of ethanol that can be produced by simple distillation, without the further dehydration step necessary to produce anhydrous (or dry) ethanol. Hydrous ethanol typically ranges from 186 proof (93% ethanol, 7% water) to 192 proof (96% ethanol, 4% water). Anhydrous ethanol means an ethyl alcohol that has a purity of at least 99%, exclusive of added denaturants.
Ethanol industry has rapidly expanded with estimated global production of 88 billion liters in 2014, a 3-6% annual growth over past 15 years, creating a new dynamics of supply, demand, price and sustainability mechanism.
Though so far unmatched with the rate of production expansion, demand is likely to grow in all areas of its applications. A transition from anhydrous to hydrous ethanol for gasoline blending is also expected to make a significant contribution to ethanol’s cost-competitiveness.
Ethanol is produced from sugar containing materials or starchy materials by two major processes - dry milling and wet milling. Dry milling the dominant and more efficient ethanol production process than wet milling. Yeast is added for fermentation, which also produces by-products.
At purification stage, major by-products are removed through distillation, adsorption, ozonation and gas stripping techniques. Distillation is the most dominant and recognized industrial purification technique of ethanol.
Dehydration is performed at the next stage to strengthen alcohol content in Ethanol. Azeotropic distillation with cyclohexane, Extractive distillation with ethyleneglycol, and Adsorption with molecular sieves are common techniques in dehydration.
Ethanol is analysed for its physical, chemical and sensory profiles against standard parameters. Gas chromatography, High performance liquid chromatography, Infrared spectroscopy, and Olfactometry are major analytical techniques.
Beverages, potable liquors – Agricultural Ethanol
Fuel (transportation, heating, propulsion) - Agricultural Ethanol
Industrial applications - Agricultural and Synthetic Ethanol
- Pharmaceutical manufacturing
– Cosmetics, perfumeries, toiletries
– Detergents and cleaning products
– Printing inks, paints, coatings, solvents
– Green chemicals
– Screenwash and deicers for the automotive industry
– Biocides and other medical uses
– Production of chemical intermediates, such as for polymers and plastics
Cavendish is a supplier of all major grades of Ethanol to the specifications of its clients
– Extra Neutral Alcohol (Grain based; food grade) – 96%v/v minimum
– Extra Neutral Alcohol (Molasses based; food grade) - 96%v/v minimum
– Absolute Alcohol (food grade) - 96%v/v to 99.99%v/v
– Denatured Alcohol / Denatured Ethanol (industrial grade)