Chemical Alcohols

General Uses Of Ethanol (C2H5OH)

Alcohol is generally used in everyday life. Many people experience the effects that alcohol has on the body whether it is pleasurable or depressing. Alcoholic drinks contain ethanol, which is produced by fermentation and the presence of carbohydrates such as sugar in barley. This is mainly to add flavour into the drink. Some of the carbon dioxide from the process of fermentation is retained in the drink that gives sparkling drinks its fizziness. The fermentation process includes yeast in aerobic conditions with a source of energy such as sugar or any other type of carbohydrates.

Uses of Alcohols in Cosmetics

Many cosmetics use Ethanol. A normal aftershave lotion contains around 70% ethanol or other types of alcohols. Ethanol’s function is perfect for cooling the skin with the ability to absorb heat from its natural surroundings since it is volatile. The volatility of the ethanol results in the bonds breaking, using the heat energy from the skin hereby cooling the skin. This also helps with closing pores in the skin that was once left open by hot water from shaving. Ethanol also helps prevent infections brought about by accidently slicing the skin when shaving, by acting as a mild anti-septic. It has the ability to interfere with bacterium’s cell wall causing the cell wall to rupture and kill the bacteria. It doesn’t kill all the bacteria.

Ethanol is also used in many types of nail varnish. Lacquer is able to dissolve in ethanol making ethanol the solvent. Nail varnish may also contain a ketone called propanone, which is a better solvent than that of ethanol. When applying nail varnish, the alcohol carries the paint material onto the nail. The alcohol then dissolves leaving the trail behind.

Moisturising cream contains alcohols in a poly form. These poly forms are compounds that contain more than one alcohol group (OH). Polyalcohols have the ability to attract the water vapour in the air. The OH group due to OH having a slight over all polar charge attracts the water. Hydrogen bonding then pulls the water in closer to the OH groups and renders them “trapped”. This then allows the body to osmotically pass the water into the cell.

Uses of Ethanol in Biofuels

Since the Earth’s natural resources, such as oil, gas and coal, are depleting, there has been debates over what type of fuel will be used next, when the earth has been reaped from all of its resources for fuel. It looks as if ethanol can be used to an advantage in forming fuels for out automobiles. The problem we face is that anything added to any type of vehicle fuel must combust and vaporise at the engines temperature. Also the added substance will need to dissolve into the fuel. Currently ethanol and methanol is added in small quantities to petrol to produce a higher octane number with a substantially decreased amount of pollution materials e.g. Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide. Ethanol has the ability to dissolve into petrol and burn well in engines. There is a decreased amount of pollution caused since it only releases a small amount of carbon dioxide, water and some aldehyde compounds. There is very little atmospheric pollution. This way of producing fuel is an advantage for countries with very little out but large crop fields to produce crop for fermentation, which can keep up with the demands for fuel. There is a country, Brazil that already use this this technique. Already, 10% of the fuel sold in Brazil contains 10% ethanol and this idea is growing in many countries and will be adopted by many other countries in the future.


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