"Ethanol" - How to fuel your car and heat your home

April 23, 2002
With Alaska Exploration Rejected, Senate Looks to Ethanol

The energy bill before the Senate, sent to the floor without going through the normal committee process, would ban M.T.B.E. nationwide and eliminate the general requirement for oxygenates in gasoline. But it would require that the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline, now 1.7 billion gallons a year, be increased, to 2.3 billion gallons by 2008 and even more every year afterward until it reaches 5 billion gallons in 2012...

Midwestern farmers like the plan because it would expand the market for corn. Environmentalists favor it because they say they think that it would lead to less air pollution. Oil companies approve because it would reduce the pressure to find another way to produce cleaner gasoline and because the measure specifies that they cannot be held liable if ethanol turns out to be damaging like M.T.B.E. The companies would also not be disappointed if an ethanol shortage developed and gasoline prices rose...

Of course, the legislation also makes the Archer Daniels Midland Company happy. The Illinois company, a big contributor to both political parties, is the largest manufacturer of ethanol...

April 24, 2002
Senate Backs More Ethanol, Nears Passage of Energy Bill

After six weeks of slow debate on energy legislation, the Senate entered the final stretch today, agreeing to a package of tax incentives for energy production and conservation and voting to expand the amount of ethanol in the nation's gasoline... The tax package in the energy legislation involves $14.1 billion in tax incentives over the next decade to promote conservation and encourage production of new sources of fuel. Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, said the incentives would 'help on the margin to wean us' from imported oil... Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, argued that the requirement for increased use of ethanol, a clean-burning additive usually made of corn, would lead to increased gasoline prices on the East and West Coasts, where that crop is not widely grown. But Mr. Daschle, the main sponsor of the ethanol provision, said this view of higher prices was 'just not accurate...'

Yes, corn is good for making ethanol. Let's learn how to make a solar still using simple parts from a hardware store. Makin' "shine" is one of the oldest, most notorious trades around, but did you know that you can produce ethanol, legally, in your own backyard from expired consumables and waste products that are thrown away by the tons everyday from our local grocery stores? In fact, with the information you gain from this report, you can make crucial decisions in legislation for mass ethanol production in the U.S. and on any foreseeable problems concerning ethanol, present technology, and possible ecological effects.

GETTING ALONG WITH UNCLE SAM...

As you probably know, it's illegal to make "shine" - alcohol distilled for human consumption. Your product will be, essentially, the same, but for a different and certainly more commendable, purpose. In view of the energy crunch and the growing number of people making their own fuel, the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) now grants experimental permits for a small fee. As long as you're making fuel, not "white lightning" for low cost whoopee, bureau personnel are for the most part helpful, cooperative, and vitally interested considering the present legislation.

You will want to study this report in full, so you will know exactly what kind of materials, space, and effort is needed for this project before deciding that you are going to build and operate a full distillery setup in your backyard.

The first thing to do before you start distillation is to write for federal information:



Mr. T.P. McFadden, Chief
Industry Control Division
Department of the Treasury
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms
Washington, DC 20226

Your letter should request "permission to set-up an experimental still for the purpose of distilling alcoholic spirits, per Title 27, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 201.65." In Addition, mention your proposed heat source (solar), raw materials (corn, sugar beets, etc.), and, most important, how your alcohol will be utilized (as automotive and heating fuel).

You'll soon receive forms requesting location and size of your still, its impact on the environment, etc. If you have any questions, or need help in completing forms, call your regional BATF office. Chances are you'll be set straight over the phone.

Likely, a friendly inspector will drop by to see your distillery plant and, perhaps, furnish helpful advice. The important thing to remember is: DON'T SCREW UP THE WORKS FOR YOURSELF AND OTHERS BY USING OR SELLING YOUR PRODUCTS AS A BEVERAGE. It's taken a lot of time to gain the present confidence and cooperation of the BATF on home stills. Just a few illegal operations could entangle all still owners, present and future, in a web of red tape. (Aspiring "Capones" shouldn't be at 777 Health, anyway.)

It's also a good idea to check with your state energy office for information on state regulations, permits required (if any), income tax breaks, etc. A note or phone call will bring the details.

State Directory of Alcohol Fuel Information Offices A B C D E
F G H I J
Instructions: Simply "click" the first letter K L M N O
of the North American state where you reside. P Q R S T
Then "click" the Find button.U V W X Y
Z
Energy Office Results

COUNTRY-STYLE RECIPE FOR CORN STILL MASH

For maximum economy, use whole kernel corn. Whether you buy it or raise your own milling expense is eliminated. More importantly, the intact seeds can be malted (made to sprout), which "frees" their sugar content and vastly reduces the amount of "outside" sugar required for fermentation. Indeed, many fuel makers, once they master the malting process, reportedly add no extra sugar. Initially, add the small amount indicated as "insurance."

Before malting or preparing mash, your mash barrel and malting trays must be clean. Scrub them with a solution of one part household bleach to ten parts water to discourage outside bacteria. The only bacterial action you want is yeast acting upon sugar.

To malt corn, place a single layer of kernels, spaced closely, in wood or plastic trays. Add enough warm tap water to thoroughly wet seeds. Let trays sit uncovered in a dark, warm place for 24 hours. Then drain off water and "sandwich" kernels between damp rags or burlap.

The idea is to keep seeds moist but not wet enough to cause water rot. Rinse kernels every 12 hours or so to wash off any forming mold, then return them to the burlap. In about 48 hours you'll have tendrils ¼ to ½ inch long. This means your corn has malted

Set mash barrel in a warm place: 72o to 90o fahrenheit. Pour 20 gallons of warm water, about 80o fahrenheit, into barrel. Add 10 lbs of malted corn and just over 3 ounces (3.2) of finely-crumbled bakers yeast (available at most grocery stores). Next, add a ½ lb. of cane sugar. Mix ingredients throughly, then cap and seal mash barrel. (For a 50 gallon batch, use 25 lbs. of malted corn, 1¼ lbs. of sugar, and 8 oz. of yeast. For 100 gallons, double these quantities.)

In three to four days fermentation will be complete with alcohol content from 12 to 14%. You're ready to start the distilling process.

{Legend: inches ~ (#)", feet ~ (#)', seal with silicone glue ~ "seal"}

WHAT CAN WE USE FOR A MASH BARREL?
[See mash barrel configuration]

Corn-sidering that you get from 2½ to 3 gallons of alcohol from 50 gallons of mash (containing 25 lbs. of corn) you will probably want to utilize the traditional moonshiner's 55 gallon drum. Two runs a week should take care of all or most of your driving needs.

During your experimental phase, you'll probably want to work with a smaller container. A good bet is a 20 gallon "recycled" steel drum or plastic garbage can. Either is easy to find, quickly modified to your needs, and and can do double duty:

  1. As a mash barrel for fermentation
  2. To hold the distilled juice while it drips into your still.

Any mash barrel needs an escape valve for the carbon dioxide that forms during fermentation. You make this by drilling a 3/8 inch hole in the lid or cover and inserting a 3 inch length of 3/8 inch outer diameter copper tubing. Slip a gasket or a washer over the tube and secure it with solder or seal (depends on type of container). If using a washer, it must form an air tight seal between the tube and mash barrel, so it's inner diameter should be 3/8". {Make sure all materials you use are drinking water safe since you don't want to poison the yeast.}

A 3/8" vent hose (usually four feet long, made of flexible tubing) is slipped over the copper tube. The free end is placed in a quart jar of water. This serves as an airlock enabling the carbon dioxide to escape while preventing outside air from entering the mash.

Your mash barrel lid should also be air tight to keep bacteria out. The easiest way to accomplish this is to, simply, wrap duct tape around the lip of your container. Or, if you want to work a little harder, apply silicone glue around the lip of your container to let it dry as an air tight bead around the perimeter. (Now, you're stylin'.)

THE FERMENTATION PROCESS

After mash has been prepared in your clean barrel, seal lid and place the vent hose in the airlock jar filled with water (if you leave the lid on the jar and punch a hole through the lid for the vent hose, that should help hold it). The barrel must be in a warm location (therefore, summer or a big, warm greenhouse is the best time or place for this project to work). Soon, the yeast will start working and a stream of bubbles will exit from the water jar-airlock. During this time, don't bump, shake, or jostle the barrel, or remove lid. You could bollix the yeast action (known as the bollix-y blues).

If you've malted the corn, bubbles will probably cease at the end of the third day, meaning that fermentation is completed. Sometimes, however, the bubbles stop for a day or so, then recommence. It's a good idea to wait 12 hours after bubbles stop (especially if bubble action ceases early), before starting distillation.

Another way to tell whether mash is ready for the still, is to see whether the "head" that forms on top of the solution, has dropped to the bottom of the barrel. This index is practical only when you're using a transparent or translucent container. Remove the lid to peek, and if the layer hasn't dropped, you've opened the door for "bugs" that could stop fermentation. Because of this danger I recommend the discontiguous stream of bubbles as an index.

When the mash has stopped working, strain the solution through clean burlap or cheesecloth. If you're going to use your mash barrel as a still holding-barrel, place the juice in a temporary container.

To modify your barrel for double-duty, simply drill a 1/2" hole close to the bottom of the barrel, and insert a 1/2" by 3 inch long, pipe nipple and valve. Use a gasket or a washer at the fitting, seal or solder, to form a liquid and airtight fitting. If you want to work a little harder (and prefer to be stylin'), you can adapt a garden-type faucet with two rubber washers and a nut to hold it in place. From there you can attach a short length of garden hose. This will probably make it easier for you (and more stylish) to adapt the outlet hose from your double duty mash barrel to your solar still.

During fermentation, the valve at bottom is shut-off . When the barrel is serving as a juice container while distilling, the escape valve at top must be sealed with a cap, plug, or tape. You might also consider putting in a water tight valve for the CO2 escape tube as well for your corn-venience. An inline pressure spigot made for freezer water inlets would probably be good for this application.

When fermentation is complete strain the mash and pour the juice into your clean still container (or back into your double duty mash container). Open the outlet valve; the flow rate will depend on the amount of sunlight and outdoor temperature which govern distillation and effluent rates. The hotter the day, the wider you'll open the valve. Careful observation during the distillation process should provide the necessary experimental data for flow rate

BUILDING YOUR SOLAR STILL
[See Solar Still - Front View]

If you've envisioned a Rube Goldberg device with pipes sticking-out in all directions, relax. It's simple-in concept, design, and function. And, it works!

Your Solar Still is nothing more than a 4' x 8' x 3/8" (or thicker) sheet of plywood (particle board and cork may be too flimsy for this project and tend to disintegrate from the weather), with 1" x 4" boards screwed or nailed to all four sides (I recommend corner brackets). Inside this "box," against the plywood, you glue a 4' x 8' x 3/4" thick sheet of foam (Celotex urethane, Technifoam, etc.), for insulation. This foam sheet is then covered, full-length, with household aluminum foil, which you affix with water proof glue (silicone, if you prefer). Over the foil, you place a 4' x 8' piece of burlap, dyed black. (Sacks sewed together work fine. Burlap comes in rolls from large chain hardware stores like Home Depot, if you prefer {you'll probably be shoppin' there anyway for most of the materials for this project}. Fabric dye can be found at large chain department stores like WalMart.)

The interior side-boards, any exposed wood, are painted black-to absorb sunlight and create maximum heat.

Over the top of your "box," place clear plastic film, rigid transparent plastic, or glass. One works about as well as the other, but the rigid materials are a good deal more costly. Glass is best since it can withstand the wear and tear of this application without too much cost, but it can be dangerous during assembly. The polycarbonate plastics are lighter, virtually unbreakable, and easily milled, therefore, this may be in your preference (not necessarily stylish, but a lot less scary than glass).

This clear covering or glazing, as it's called, must be sealed with tape, putty, Permagum, etc., whichever is most appropriate for the glazing utilized. If you already have your big supply of silicone glue, use that.

Obviously, before you affix the glazing, you have to install the "innards" which transform your 24 to 28 proof juice to 160 to 190 proof fuel.

Your still is designed to operate with the long 8' side more or less parallel to the ground, with the left side (as you face it) propped-up so it's about 8" higher than the right side. In essence, your still support should hold the still at an approximate 150 angle as you face it from the front and an approximate 450 angle as you face it from the side. In the upper left hand corner, near the top, drill a 1/2" inlet hole. Then, take your 8' 3" piece of 1/2" PVC pipe, and drill 1/8" holes, spaced 2" apart, the length of the pipe. (There might be irrigation pipe of this nature at your hardware store, but it's no big deal drillin' a few holes.) Leave the first 3" blank then commence a drillin'.

This pipe is inserted into the 1/2" hole at upper left. It runs the entire 8' width of still close and parallel to the top 1" x 4" board. The 3" blank pipe extending from left of still will be hooked-up to the juice feeder line (adapted with a female garden hose fitting, if you chose to be "stylish"). The right end of the pipe is capped, and butts up against the right 1" x 4" board (why not mount the cap inside the still? - that's corn-venient). The middle support board that you see in the pop-up diagram is not necessary unless you decide to use a big, heavy, scary piece of glass for your glazing that could shatter and kill on impact (sorry for the melodrama).

When the still is activated the juice flows from the still container into the pipe, down through the holes, and into the burlap.

The burlap becomes saturated. The heat inside the still causes the alcohol, which evaporates at lower temperature than water, to leave the solution and collect and condense on the inner surface of the glazing. [See Solar Still - Side View]

Since the still is slightly tilted to the right the alcohol will flow down and to the right. We need to collect this condensation in a "gutter." A 1" x 1" corn-er flashing will serve this purpose; it is mounted against and parallel to the bottom 1" x 4" board. This flashing (aka - collection gutter) terminates in a 3/8" outlet pipe at the extreme right-lower corner of the still. The outlet pipe is attached to a 3/8" vinyl tubing which carries the alky to a glass or metal collection container. The lid of the container should have a 3/8" hole to hold the inlet tube and prevent evaporation of your precious spirits; it should also have a very small vent hole for easy in flux of the alcohol.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) the giant glaciers of the Himalayas are melting so quickly that within five years dozens of glacial lakes could burst their banks and kill tens of thousands in their path. Researchers who have been monitoring the glaciers for 15 years are deeply alarmed by the speed with which many lakes are filling as glaciers shrink under the impact of global warming. The warnings add a new dimension to the understanding of the multiple environmental hazards posed by climate change. While the deaths of nearby residents and the destruction of homes and farms will be the most immediate effects of such glacial lake outburst floods, or glofs, as they are known, they are by no means the only hazard. Klaus Toepfer, the executive director of UNEP warned, "It is not just the risk to human lives, agriculture and property that should worry us. Mountains are the world's water towers, feeding the rivers and lakes upon which all life depends. If the glaciers continue to retreat at the rates being seen in places such as the Himalayas, many rivers and freshwater systems could run dry, threatening drinking water supplies as well as fisheries and wildlife. We have another compelling reason to act to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases." [The Independent, Peter Popham]
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As you can probably tell from this project, thus far, the mass production of ethyl alcohol according to present legislation would create an excess amount carbon dioxide. A number of "experts" claim that CO2 is the major component of "green house gas." What these same "experts" neglect to mention is that all that extra CO2 generated by animal life, especially human civilization, is supposed to be absorbed by plant life, namely the rain forests. What these same "experts" also neglect to mention is that 2.47 acres of rainforest are destroyed each second, 214,000 each day, and 78 million each year, but, for some reason, these "experts" feel justified in complaining about the CO2 generated by technology rather than the bio-terrorist eradication of rain forests that are supposed to absorb that excess gas. If you would like to help preserve our rain forests just by clicking some links without any cost to you, then go to the rain forest link at the animal love site.

Most of the water in your juice won't evaporate as it passes through the burlap, so a separate and larger drain hole must be provided [See Solar Still - Front View]. Drill a ½ inch hole at the bottom right of the still just behind the 3/8" alky drain hole. Insert a 3" piece of PVC tube into the hole and anchor it with PVC cement. (I recommend that your solar still have two gutters: One for catching the distilled alky and the other for catching the undistilled effluent. The best way to position these two separate "gutters" is to have the thinner, L-shaped flashing flush with the glazing and sitting right next to the larger U-shaped flashing which is flush with the inside wall of the still under the bottom edge of the burlap. I also recommend that you cap and/or seal the ends of both "gutters." Once you have secured your gutters drill your holes straight through them and the bottom board, insert your pipes and seal them.) You will want the 3" PVC tube for the larger "gutter" threaded or coupled with a thread at the end so you can adapt it to a ½" garden hose. Slip a ½" section of garden hose over the pipe and place the other end in a large container to capture the undistilled effluent. {Remember, your solar still will be able to distill out 2.5 to 3 gallons of pure ethyl alcohol during each run, so you will need a capture container almost as large as your double duty mash container or still container for the undistilled effluent - unless you plan on standin' there an' baby sittin' that sucker all day.}

This run-off liquid often contains a surprisingly large amount of alcohol. After completing "a run" pour this liquid back into your still container or double duty mash container for recycling.

SUMMING UP THE DISTILLATION PROCESS

The juice runs into the still, and dribbles through holes in the PVC pipe, onto the burlap. The heat inside the airtight still "box" causes the alcohol in the juice to evaporate from the burlap and condense on the inner side of the glazing. From there, it drips down to the flashing "gutter," flows out of the 3/8" outlet tube into a collection container.

The remaining mash liquid, with some alcohol content, flows down from the burlap to the lower right corner of the still down its own "gutter" and out the 1/2" drain hole into its separate collection container.

STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS FOR BUILDING
"THIS OL' STILL"

We've given you the overall picture. Now, it's up to you. Your still can be a model of craftsmanship, or merely slapped together. You understand the principles involved. So long as they're observed, appearance doesn't count - just don't use too much duct tape; it won't last. You may elect to use glass glazing or stiff plastic sheets, carefully fitted into dado grooves. Or you may settle for clear film, taped into place. You can miter corners or simply butt-nail them together. The following procedures will suffice, or they can serve as a starting point:

  1. Screw or nail the 1' x 4' boards to all four edges of your 4' x 8' sheet of plywood or particle board (Corner brackets will provide the greatest strength). Miter or butt-fit the ends and seal the seams to make it water tight.

  2. Affix sheet of 3/4" x 4' x 8' foam with cement, inside this box against plywood. Run a bead of caulking material, permagum, or seal around edges of foam to seal it. Cement aluminum foil to the foam with silicone glue or simular making sure edges overlap to prevent moisture from getting into foam.

  3. Cover the foil (and foam) with a 4' x 8' section of black-dyed burlap. Secure it with staples driven into the adjoining wood.

  4. Drill a 1/2" hole at the top left of the frame for the PVC drip tube. Drill a 3/8"hole at the bottom right of the frame for out flux of the distilled alky. Drill a l/2" hole just behind the 3/8" hole for the undistilled effluent. (See pop-up sketchs for relative positioning).

  5. Cut PVC 1/2" pipe to an 8' 3" length. Leave the first 3" intact. Drill a series of 1/8" holes, 2" apart, for the remaining 8'. Holes should be aligned and on one side of the pipe only. Insert ½" PVC pipe into the still through the upper left hole you drilled, with the 1/8" holes facing downward. Cover the right end of pipe with a cap, then butt it firmly against the inside right of the still (mounting the cap with a screw and sealing it at its intended location will secure the end of the pipe when you insert it).

  6. Insert - 3/8" copper drain tube, and 1/2" PVC drain tube, in holes at lower right. Seal with washers/silicone glue, to prevent leakage.

  7. Paint all exposed interior wood, and pipe, with flat-black paint. I recommend priming the wood with a mold-preventing, exterior primer before applying the black paint.

  8. Install L-shaped 1" flashing. It runs the full 8' length of the still at bottom buttressed against the glazing. (Refer to pop-up sketchs.) Position the flashing so 1/16" protrudes against the glazing in case you are using flexible film; it acts as a barrier, forcing the condensed alcohol down and into the "gutter." (If you use glass or lexan plastic as glazing, the flashing must be flush with the bottom edge as it buttresses against this glazing.) Secure the flashing with wood screws spaced 12" apart. Seal these screws.

  9. You're ready to apply the glazing. If you're using flexible vinyl, cut your 6 mil. film about 3 to 4 inches oversize, at all sides. Before positioning film, lay a bead of permagum or silicone glue along the edge of the protruding flashing to prevent alcohol from seeping past the edge. Place film in position, and secure it with vinyl or duct tape. Make certain your film-to-wood seal is as airtight as possible, if you are using film. I recommend screwing 1" x 1/2" slats against the film around the outside perimeter of the still in order to secure it and make it air tight. In order to make the seal between film and still complete, I recommend that you apply a bead of silicone glue, straight as possible, around the lip of the still (like you did with the mash barrel - remember?), let the bead dry, then, when installing your film, buttress your 1" x 1/2" slats right against that bead as you secure the film. (I bet you never thought that you'd be stylin' with film!)

    If you're using plastic panes, simply seal the outside edge. If you're using glass, then may God protect you. I have never had the guts to even deal with a 2' x 4' piece of glass (not outside of a mirror).

POSITIONING THE STILL

Set your still where it will get the most sun, and with the top tilted back approximately 45 degrees. You can prop it against a fence, old chair, or use hinged legs-bearing in mind that the left side must be about 8" higher than the right. The right side, in turn, must be above the two collection containers, for gravity to do the feeding.

If you enjoy carpentry and be completely stylish, make a cradle to guarantee the optimum sun to still angle, and skew for proper drainage (like those huge cradles holding those 8' satellite dishes - 450 is still relatively optimum for most areas, so there's no need to get too fancy). Set your juice container above still, for gravity feeding, and you're set to go!

We emphasize that our intention now, is to get you started ... to alert you to the fact alcohol is a practical energy source. Experiment, discover how easy it is to make your own fuel, and you may wish to construct a larger or "in-series" solar set-up ... or a still that operates on wood.

Those of you who are not skilled at carpentry and have not even built a dog house should still keep reading because some important issues are coming in legislation concerning mass production of ethanol. The knowledge you are about to gain on possible sources of fuel will change your perspective on "garbage" handling and may even help prevent the ecological disaster of landfills.

FERMENTATION

Alcohol can be produced from a surprising range of raw materials... from corn, to peaches, to potatoes, to artichokes, to old newspapers. Critics of domestic alcohol production from plant and vegetable matter argue that at the current cost of a bushel of corn (about $4.50) as an alcohol feedstock would produce ethanol with cost per gallon of $1.50 for the ingredients alone (a price we really don't need considering that the price of regular unleaded is already around this price!)

Now the good news. First, new enzymes and yeast strains have helped to drastically increase the alcohol yield from a bushel of grain. Second, ingredients, millions of tons of ingredients across the country, are available without cost. Spoiled grains, rotten fruits, waste paper, and all manner of refuse either cost nothing or may be hauled away to an alcohol production plant at a slight profit (garbage collection fees). It is amazing how abudant free feedstock materials are. In my own community, with just a little checking, I've found enough free and clean ingredients to produce several thousand gallons of ethanol every week (namely, the grocery stores). It is reasonable to expect that you can do just as well in your community.

For example, a local weekly newspaper publisher can find no market for more than 50 tons of waste newsprint each year. He pays a small fee to have it hauled away just to keep his building clean and free of the unwanted accumulation of trimmings and end-rolls. Newsprint is almost pure cellulose, which can easily be converted by nearly 100% to simple, fermentable sugars with the latest enzymes. Dry paper is a remarkably clean, odorless feedstock material that can be stored indefinitely. And, the alcohol yield per ton is quite high. A paper-shredder is all that might be necessary to process this material for fermentation. And old newsprint from a variety of sources is available in nearly every community in the country.

Special sources of free feedstock materials present themselves uniquely in each different area. Until now, you may have taken many of these important local sources of alcohol for granted without realizing their potential. Let us consider the various types of feedstocks and how they may be used.

There are three general categories of ethanol feedstocks: SACCHARINE MATERIALS (high in natural sugar content), STARCHY MATERIALS, and CELLULOSE MATERIALS. There are also a number of ingredients containing two or all three of these materials together. Each type of material has its own, special processing recipe.

SACCHARINE FEEDSTOCKS:

These are the simplest types of materials to ferment. They are simply:

  1. ground or crushed (to expose the greatest surface area to the yeast organisms,

  2. Adjusted for correct pH (acidity or alkalinity) level (by the addition of a small amount of acid ... or some of the previous fermenting material), and

  3. fermented for 2 to 7 days (depending on temperature and the type of material used).

One more consideration is necessary for saccharine materials: the percentage of fermentable sugar present. About 50% of the fermentable material will be converted to alcohol by fermentation. As discussed earlier, the yeast organisms responsible for this conversion can usually only tolerate a 10% concentration. Therefore, the original sugar content should not exceed 20%. If the original concentration is higher than this, some of the potentially fermentable material will not be converted before the process stops, thereby, causing waste of feedstock material. This is, of course, undesireable. It is, therefore, important to estimate the sugar percentage prior to distillation. When necessary, in dealing with super-rich sugar materials such as molasses, the fermenting solution should be diluted to the optimum level of 20%.

Over dilution is just as undesireable as under dilution because more distillation time will be required to remove the excess water. For example, a ton of grapes, with 15% sugar content would yield about 17 gallons of nearly pure alcohol. But watermelons, containing only 2% to 3% sugar would yield only about 3.5 gallons of alcohol in the same amount of distillation time.

Actual measurement of the sugar content of the fermentate (fermenting solution) can be measured in advance with a 'hydrometer" (available from chemical supply houses, wine-making apparatus stores, and quite possibly, the cooking section of department stores. See the directory at the end of this report for mail order sources of this and other supplies.) However, since no saccharine materials (with the exception of molasses at 50-55%) have sugar concentrations exceeding 20%, pre-fermentation measurement of the sugar content for, these items is not necessary. (Actual recipes included later are carefully configured to eliminate any need for dilution.)

to be continued...

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