Alcohol as a biofuel

brief background on alcohol fuels: wjec syllabus requires "an awareness" of this

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  • Created on: 17-09-11 11:39
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Alcohol as a bio fuel
Biologically produced alcohols, most commonly ethanol, are
produced by the action of microorganisms and enzymes through
the fermentation of sugars or starches or cellulose
6CO2 + 6H2O C6H12O6 + 6O2
The combustion of ethanol is carbon neutral as it is made by the
fermentation of plants such as sugar cane and the carbon
produced is the same as the carbon taken in during the
photosynthesis of the plants used to make it.
Alcohol fuels can be used as a
replacement for petrol or diesel or mixed
with petrol and used in a normal petrol
Many hydrocarbon molecules are burned
as fuels, but since it is a redox reaction,
theoretically it can be done as a
combined halfcell oxidation/reduction
electron transfer reaction.
In practice organic compounds can be
oxidised by oxygen in a way that can be
used to generate electricity directly in a
fuel .The reaction is very exothermic, so
ethanol is a good source of chemical
potential energy. Ethanol is used directly as a fuel in a direct
ethanol fuel cell (a DEFC fuel cell).
CH3CH2OH(aq) + O2(g) ==> CH3COOH(aq) + H2O(l) (HØ = 494 kJ


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