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A Study On: Ethanol Fuel

Written By

Chinodebem Onyemenam

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Table of Contents
What Is Ethanol? 1 Brief History Of Ethanol Used and How Used Ethanol As A Fuel 4 6 2 3

Production Of Ethanol From Cassava 5 Economics of Ethanol Fuel Ethanol Fuel & Africa

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What Is Ethanol?
Ethanol, is a volatile, flammable and colourless liquid, with a slight odor, which is used in the production of beverages (especially the alcoholic beverages), liquors, pharmaceutical substances, and most of all, fuel. The simple beverage-related use of ethanol, can be dated back to far history, precisely the prehistoric time, as relatively recent archaeological findings prove that the Neolithic prehistoric men c0nsumed this liquid substance in the form of alcoholic beverages (source: Wikipedia). However, not until 1828-1840 was a more complex and economical use of ethanol found. This use as a fuel totally changes our view on the importance of this substance, from a normal essential beverage supplement, to a probable global source of energy.

The Brief History


The complex nature of ethanol, is owed to the various diverse studies and discoveries of individual, Institutions and even tribes . Although the production of alcohol was well known and practices by the early Greeks and Arabs, the first ever recorded production of alcohol, was done in the 12th Century, by the School of Salerno Alchemists, however, the first recorded production of pure alcohol (in contrast to the alcohol mixtures predominant during those periods) was carried out by Raymond Lull. In 1796 however, Johann Tobias Lowitz obtained the first ever pure ethanol by distilling the diluted ethanol (possibly from the pure alcohol) through an activated charcoal, later on, Antoine Lavoisier described the pure ethanol as having hydrogen, oxygen and carbon elements. And in 1808, Nicholas Theodore de Saussure, determined the chemical formula of ethanol, of which fifty years later, Archibald Scott, published. Ethanol was first prepared synthetically through the Independent efforts of Henry Hennel in Great Britain, and S.G Srullas in France, in 1826, while in 1928, Sir. Michael Faraday improved on this process, by producing ethanol by an acid-catalyzed hydration of ethylene a process popular in the Industrial process of ethanol production. An early use of ethanol as a lamp fuel in the United States, in 1840, was hindered by the tax levied on its production during the American Civil War.

Uses and How Used


Ethanol & Alcoholic Beverages: The reaction between the simple sugar, glucose, and a yeast called xymase, leads to the production of ethanol, which by form, is a primary alcohol. Thus, with this formed primary alcohol (chemically a depressant), the alcoholic ethanol becomes the principal constituent in beverages called alcoholic bever Ethanol & Dough

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The simple alcoholic or ethanol fermentation in doughs (i.e. the production of ethanol in the dough), leads to the rising of the dough. This process is due to the added yeast to the dough, which reacts with the present simple sugars, leading to the ethanol fermentation in the dough, and consequently, the rising of the dough

Ethanol As A Fuel
The Ethanols fuel function dates far before the discovery and application of petroleum as a source of energy. From the discovery of the pure alcohol or ethanol by NicholasTheodore de Saussure, in 1808, to the final improvement made on its production, by Michael Faraday, ethanol has been used as a fuel, by 1840, it was used as lamp fuels and also, as the fuel for the internal combustion engines of automobiles at that era. Such automobiles include, the first automobiles of the American car maker, Henry Ford (including his famous Model T automobile and his quadricycle), this is because, the internal combustion engines available during that era: that of Samuel Morey (the inventor of the first internal combustion engine) and that of the famous Nicolas Otto (who revolutionized and made the first ever modern internal combustion engine) were built to both run on ethanol. But by the turn of the 20th Century, after the discovery and relatively small-scale production of petroleum resources, improved modern technology created a more efficient and effective way of petrol extraction and processing - a process that took a far less time than the ethanol production system and with the seemingly unending availability of the petroleum resources, the world quickly adopted this newer, faster and more efficient source of energy. However, the role of ethanol was not fully replaced by the introduction of petrol as the principal source of energy, it was and is still being used and mixed with gasoline at varying percentages (generally up to 15%) as it increases the octane ratings in the hydrocarbonic gasoline, therefore limiting incidence of engine-knocks. But until the energy crisis in 1973 and 1979 was the world awakened to the sore truth of the limited availability of Petroleum resource, and has since then, commenced researches on alternative fuel sources while moderately reducing their petroleum usage. Seems like the prediction of Henry Ford about ethanol is gradually being fulfilled. The fuel (ethanol) of the future Henry Ford

But would the current food crisis affect the event of the replacement of petroleum by ethanol fuel as the worlds principal energy source?

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Production Of Ethanol
Since 2005, the United States of America has been the largest producer of ethanol fuel, with 13.2 U.S. Liquid gallons (i.e. 50.0 Billion liters) produced in 2010. Together with Brazil, the second largest ethanol fuel producer, they account for 88% of the worlds ethanol fuel production, however, the production of ethanol fuel in the United States of America, is mainly used for the oxygenation of gasoline, in the forms of low-level blends of up to 10%. Ethanol From Cassava Cassava, Manihot esculenta crantz, due to its high starch and cellulose fiber content (of 60% and 20% respectively), upon its fermentation by yeast, a great amount of ethanol fuel is produced. Amongst the various methods of ethanol fuel production from cassava, we have the Alvan Blanch Project that produces a great deal of ethanol fuel, according to this project (www.cassavabiz.org/postharvest/ethanol01.htm):

Cassava Ethanol Process Flowchart

It is not poisonous. It does not cause air pollution or any environmental hazard. It does not contribute to the greenhouse effect problem (CO2 addition to the atmosphere, causing global warming). It has a higher octane rating than petrol as a fuel. That is, ethanol is an octane booster and anti-knocking agent. It is an excellent raw material for synthetic chemicals. Ethanol provides jobs and economic development in rural areas. Ethanol reduces countrys dependence on petroleum and

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it is a source of non-oil revenue for any producing country.

Ethanol is capable of reducing the adverse foreign trade balance. Peeler Grater Jet cooker Fermentor Distiller Steam boiler Generator Efficient treatment plant

Equipment required

Ethanol plant from Alva Blanch, UK Basic plant The first type of plant will produce a strong alcohol from cassava, but this will have an odor as the distilling process is very crude. The plant would bring in fresh cassava, wash and peel, grate, cook in a jet cooker, ferment, distil, and bottle. In addition a steam boiler, generating set, effluent treatment plant and electrical system are required. The actual amount of cassava needed is dependant upon the starch content, but as a guide, cassava at 30% starch content will produce approximately 280 liters of alcohol/tonne. Cassava which is only 20% starch will produce only 180 liters of alcohol/tonne. The plant will produce approximately 3000 liters/day of alcohol at 96%, which equivalent to 7500 liters/day at 40%. The plant will also produce around 2-3m3/hr of effluent. This has to be disposed of properly and is normally used as an animal feed. This plant operates on a batch basis and can process approximately 4-6 batches/24 hours, producing 500 liters of alcohol/batch. The plant will need good water supply and continuous electrical supply (around 50Kva). The steam requirements are around 1500 kg/hour. The cost will be in the region of 290,000 which includes all the equipment, shipping, supervision of installation, commissioning, and operator training. Complex plant The next type of plant will produce a better quality of alcohol from cassava, and uses a multi-column still so that the complex distilling techniques employed ensures a high quality product, free from all types of odors, etc. The plant would bring in fresh cassava, wash and peel, grate, cook in a jet cooker, ferment, distil, and bottle. In addition a steam boiler, generating set, effluent treatment plant, and electrical system are required. The actual amount of cassava needed is dependent upon the starch content, but as a guide cassava at

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30% starch content will produce approximately 280 liters of alcohol/tonne. Cassava which is only 20% starch will produce only 180 liters of alcohol/tonne. The plant will produce approximately 4000 liters/day of alcohol at 96%, which is equivalent to 10,000 liters/day at 40%. The plant will also produce around 2-3m3/hr of effluent. This has to be disposed of properly and is normally used as an animal feed. This plant operates on a batch basis and can process approximately 4-6 batches/24 hours, producing 500 liters of alcohol/batch. The plant will need a good water supply and a continuous electrical supply (around 50Kva). The steam requirements are around 1500 kg/hour. The cost will be in the region of 620,000 which includes all the equipment, shipping, supervision of installation, commissioning, and operator training. http://www.alvanblanch.co.uk/

Other processes of ethanol fuel production from cassava includes; the production of ethanol fuel from cassava pulp, the production of ethanol fuel from Cassava Flour Hydrolysate (CFH) etc.

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The Economics Of Ethanol Fuel


#1. Saving Money: According the Mr. Sunday Ojonugwa of the Nigerian Cassava Growers Association (NCGA), the involvement of Nigeria in the production and use of ethanol fuel would save the country $6.1 billion by the year of 2012, as it would cut back and eliminate the importation of kerosene and gasoline into the economy. Same applies to most other third world countries of the world, which would help in their development. #2. Provision of Road Transportation sector fuel needs: Based on the experience of the worlds most successful ethanol fuel country, Brazil, as at 2006, ethanol fuel provided up to 16% of the countrys road transportation sector fuel needs, thus, relatively reducing the expenses on importation of fuel in the country. #3. Promotion of Agriculture: Yet another look at the brilliant success of Brazil in the ethanol fuel production project, over 1% (i.e. 3.6 million hectares) of Brazils arable land is devoted to the production of the starchy sugar canes their source of ethanol fuel production. With the introduction of ethanol fuel production, several improvements have been made on the Governments approach and support to Agriculture in the country, e.g. the provision of low-interest loans for the construction of ethanol distilleries, tax incentives provided in 1980 etc, all these have either directly or indirectly affects the Agricultural production in the country. #4. Sustainable food: With improved and promoted agriculture comes promoted food supply, exactly what the world needs to go through the current food crisis. #4. War against Global Warming: The introduction of ethanol fuel in increasing quantities in the gasoline produced, decreases the quantity of gasoline produced, therefore, reducing the quantity pollution and release of toxic waste to the environment released both in production and in use. #5. Enriches the Third World Countries: 9| Page

The production of ethanol fuel and its sources sugar cane, corn, cassava etc. would greatly invlve the third world nations, as, the exportation of these procedurally essential agricultural products would begin to soar, and thus increasing in the Governments Revenue in such countries. The further production of ethanol fuel would not only further enrich these countries (as could engage in exportations of the ethanol fuel produced) but would also promote industrialization and economical stability in such countries. The significance of the ethanol fuel to the economy of countries is truly global and immense.

Ethanol Fuel & Africa


NIGERIA: Nigeria has been one of Africas major players in the ethanol fuel production project, with 3 major multi-million commissioned projects, over 30.9 million tones of ethanol fuel is scheduled to be produced by the presently-under-construction ethanol fuel plants. With plants at Ekiti State (using the sweet sorghum and cassava as its ethanol-fuel source, and contracted to the Oke-Ayedun Ethanol Fuel Project) at Taraba State (Contracted to a Chinese based Dinota Ventures Limited, a 19Mgy Cassava plant producing 1600MWh of electricity) and the plant at Kwara State (producing 30.6 million tones of Cassava ethanol fuel) in Nigeria.

GHANA: According to a feasibility study of biofuel production in Ghana there is potential for a biofuel industry in Ghana. The industry should initially focus on the

production of biodiesel, until a competitive sugar industry is developed for the production of ethanol. At the same time, the competitiveness of the biodiesel industry is dependent on stable national and international prices for oil palm, and increased productivity of jatropha obtained through R&D.

However Ghana remains one of Africas favorite to engage in biofuel productions, due to their large agricultural affiliation and involvement.

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The largest cassava ethanol fuel production facility was completed in Beihai, with annual output of two hundred thousand tons, which would need an average of one and half million tons of cassava.

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