Simple Distillation of Ethyl Alcohol

We extracted alcohol from a fermentation product (burgundy wine) via a simple distillation process (in effect distilling brandy) in order to then characterize the brandy by density, combustibility, and boiling point. By extracting a series of samples we were able to determine the proof of our initial extraction and determine by comparison the quality of each successive sample. Our initial extraction sample proved to be 134 proof (67%) alcohol. Our first and second samples were flammable, third and fourth samples would not combust and were apparently had very low if any alcohol percentage.

Introduction The Simple Distilling process is an effective separation process for liquid mixtures with very large boiling point differences. Ethyl Alcohol and H2O are particularly easy to separate, as their boiling points are 78.5o C and 100o C respectively. This is an effective method of increasing alcohol by volume in a beverage, as fermentation of sugars alone will not produce greater than 12 to 15 %. We distill a wine (12 % alcohol by volume) sample and collect a series of samples, recording boiling points and determining density of our primary fraction in order to determine the highest successful proof liquid distilled by comparing results to known density charts for alcohol. Experimental Data Distilled burgundy wine sample in basic still apparatus: • Applie d heat to gradually increase temperature of distilling flask contents from initial 24oC. • Collected initial fraction (minimum volume of 15 mL); recorded gram weight (mass) of 5 mL sample and combustibility of sample. Recorded start and finish collection temperatures to ascertain boiling point.

Initial  Fraction Data for  density  determination

Vol 5 mL

Mass 4.48 g

• Collected samples 2-4 (volume each approx. 10 mL); determined combustibility and other qualities of each. Recorded collection temperatures to ascertain boiling points. Distillate  Fractions Co  Collection Temperatures Sample #1 74.5 83.0 Sample #2 84.0 87.0 Sample #3 87.0 90.0 Sample #4 90.0 91.0

Data Analysis Density of initial fraction compared to tables of known alcohol % by volume determined that sample was 67% or, by US standards, 134 proof. Measured by analytic balance: D (.896 g/mL) = Mass (4.48 g)

Volume (5.0 mL) Margin for error of 5 mL pipette measurement method for volume is 1.01%. This difference is enough to cause the possible alcohol percentage of the sample to range from approx. 20 to 95 %. Due to the extremely high combustibility of sample fraction #1, analysis would conclude that any error is more likely to have caused a lower % by volume determination than the actual. Characteristics of the sample fractions were determined as follows: Fraction  Av. Boil.  Odor Quality of Flame Colour of Flame Other Observations

# 1

Pt (Co) 78.75
Faint, but like a  good Grappa

(Combustibility) (Combustibility)
Translucent, high   and efficient   (burned completely) Blue, barest hint of   Very little to no  orange at end of  material left; appears  material   to be higher proof than   consumption density measurement   indicated. Blue, not as vivid,   more orange. Tried to gasp out a   tiny yellow flame. N/A Faded more, left much  more material. This didn’t want to  burn… tried to, then   extinguished the match NO combustion at all,  might as well have  been pure water.

2 3 4

85.5 88.5 90.5

Much more  grapey. Sour,  unpleasant...spoilt   wine. Sweeter, slightly  winey.

Still intense, esp   around edges Not really.

NO combustion at  all.

Conclusion Even though our measurements indicate that our initial sample was only 67% ethyl alcohol, the initial fraction sample burned off (as indicated above) completely with a high-temperature blue flame. This would imply a higher alcohol proof. The pipette transfer methodology has sufficient margin for error that I cannot stand by our final determination of 134 proof but rather do believe the sample to have had a higher alcohol percentage by volume. The average boiling temperature at which it was collected seems to support that conclusion, as well as the lack of combustibility in samples three and four. Post Lab Questions 1. Pure water

volume 150.14 mL (150/.9991) Pure Ethanol volume 189.11 mL (150/.7932) 50% alcohol solution volume 160.69 (150/.9335) 2. Density of a good beer (e.g. Guinness Draft, 6.5 %) = .990 Density of bourbon (at 80 proof/40 %) = 0.951 Will bourbon float on beer = absolutely yes!! 


Yes, due to the

large difference in boiling points of the two hydrocarbons. 4. (12 C + 24 O; 22 H + 11 O) C12H22O11 + 12O2 = 12CO2 + 11H2O


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