Sciencemadness Discussion Board

Cheap and easy ethanol production?

Wolfram - 8-1-2004 at 08:19

How about this, would it work?
You take cell free enzyme extract and add to it sugar and water. Ethanol will form. The pressure is lowered in the reaction chamber to 1/4 of atospheric pressure so that ethanol will boil away as soon as it is formed at 37C. The ethanol is collected by condensation as normal by cooling the vapor to roomtemprature.
You only have to add more sugar and water to have a constant flow of ethanol.

If someone could meke some money of this please send me a postcard.:D

[Edited on 8-1-2004 by Wolfram]

chemoleo - 8-1-2004 at 10:28

Haha, I once had similar thoughts.
But no, using a cell free extract will, at most, work only very briefly, until NADH etc is used up. Also, cell free extracts are not easy to make (unless you ahve a nice centrifuge), and unstable ...

Much better: Do the same thing with Super Yeast (check ebay), it ferments sugar completely to EtOH and CO2/H2O within 48 hours. Here you can conduct the experiment as planned. I dont think however the reduced pressure thing will work however, ever tried to dry something soaked in EtOH under vacuum? The drying does not happen fast at all. Much better: Do it batchwise, then filter of the cells and distill... voila, un petit d'ethanol :D

The continuous biological production of EtOH will be tricky however, as you are thinking of a chemostat: Constant influx and outflux, while certain conditions are maintained.
Firstly, the cells (yeast) will inexorably mutate with time, to a state where they produce less EtOH. (Chemostats are sometimes used for this purpose, to make mutant varieties with certain properties)
Secondly, as you wont distill off EtOH under reduced pressure, you'll have to continuously deduct a small amount of reaction liquid, while you continuously feed the system with sugar & water. This will lead to the problem of mutation.
Thirdly, chemostats are expensive: Everything has to be sterile, inflow and outflow, and gas outlet. They are complex and hard to regulate (normally computers model production), and require detailed studies to determine the optimum rate of EtOH production/rate of sugar addition.

Anyway, I dont know the details of the production of bioalcohol, but its either simply batchwise, or some shortened form of a chemostat, where production is stopped before mutations develop.

For the DIY production, just buy some super yeast and try! it works very well. To keep things sterile, I suggest to boil the H2O/sugar solution before use, to pour it into the container that had been rinsed with alcohol just before (it doesnt have to be dry), to cover it with a layer of sterile (boiled) oil, and to add the yeast at the right temperature (submerge it under the oil). The oil serves as a sterile lid by the way, which seals perfectly. Made beer and alcohol that way, which worked perfectly fine :D

permanent production

Organikum - 24-1-2004 at 08:29

can be facilized by using demobilized yeast whats not so hard as it sounds. This demobilized yeast is put in a column and the sugar/water/salt mixture is run continously through the column. After passing the column the alcohol is boiled out - as azeotrope is understood - and water/nutrient salt is replentished as needed. A refractometer comes handy here.

Attached a german text covering exactla this what was asked for....

Ok, I translate the part on production of immobilized yeast:

Production of yeast-alginate pearls:
(hope alginat is alginate in english LOL)
2,5g yeast is mixed with 3ml waterby shaking.
0,25g sodiumalginate is shaken with 7nl of water.
Then the yeast suspension is given to the dissolved alginate.

0,3g CaCl2 is dissolved in 15ml water and stirred like hell (vortex stirring). Whilst stirring the yeast/alginate mixture is added to the CaCl2/water dropwise using a syringe. The syringe should be hold vertically when doing this.

3mm diameter pearls of yeast enclosed in alginate will drop out and can be removed by using an ultrahightech teasieve device.

voila - immobilized yeast.

Alginat, alginate - use GOOGLE, dont ask....
Its cheap, unwatched and everywhere.

Attachment: Hefe_immobilisieren.txt (4kB)
This file has been downloaded 1643 times

Al Koholic - 25-1-2004 at 21:07

Alright, this idea has me fascinated. I realize now after reading your post organikum about how easy it will be to make the immobilised yeast. This wouldn't at all be out of the range of someone at home with decent materials. I have not read the rest of the article but I figure you will want to have a nice balance of sugars, carboxylic acids, and vitamins with misc protiens to support the yeast etc.

My only problem is with the reproduction of the yeast... Was something mentioned about whether or not the immobilised yeast attempt reproduction or whether reproduction messes up the matrix the yeast are suspended in? If this isn't a problem at all, then hell, this would be a very fun project without a terrible amount of tribulation. Plentiful, clean alcohol production. With the same for sulfuric acid, hell you can have a nice ether plant in your garage!

for alcohol production

Organikum - 26-1-2004 at 03:53

the way chemoleo pointed out, the use of "super" or "turbo" yeast is the way to go, as this needs not much more than sugar and some mineral salts like MgSO4 - which are needed is on the package of the yeast, no problem, you can order the salts also where you buy the yeast.... no problem, fast and easy.

The immobilization of yeast is useful for other yeast mediated transformations as there are plenty. But of course it is a VERY good idea to start with alcohol production with immobilized yeast before trying to apply this technique to other products - yeast is something alive, one has to get a routine, a feeling for it.

And no, immobilized yeast doesnt reproduce - no space for...

A simple way to feed yeast with all he needs (except some mineral salts which are easy to get and asscheap) is to add yeast-extract which can be made by autolysis. A kind of cannibalism this is....

Anyone remembers "Soilent Green" ?

Vegemite! (yeast extract)

Ramiel - 26-1-2004 at 22:27

Vegimite is another example of just how smart us australians really are :D ...
I believe it started out with an excess of yeast from beer fermentation.
The question posed was - what do we do with all this yeast, left over from our beautiful Australian beer?
"Since our golden malt water is so nice, and we all love it so much, why don't we eat the yeasties too?"
The suggestion was met with great enthusiasm, and thusly Vegimite was born.
Seriously though, it is a vegetable yeast extract and contains ALL the nutrients that yeasts need (and people too)!.

wrench352 - 27-1-2004 at 12:29

I found this to be as cheap and easy as it gets:
You can be up and running in one afternoon with a very drinkable product by nightfall(though not alot).$20.00 US plus ingriedients,so another $20.00 bucks and thats enough for a lot of ethanol.Big hint corn syrup goes on sale around Christmas and you can buy it at .78 cents a pint!

Haggis - 28-1-2004 at 09:31

That procedeure is the cheapest that I've found as well. One could possibly save more money by bypassing the flare screw-on junction, it serves no real advantage besides cleaning. To clean mine, I just pour water in the boiling flask, put on the stopper, and shake the water through the condenser. One could also distill some water as well. The cooling is needed, it's amazing how hot the water gets from the coils.

Soylent Green

Hermes_Trismegistus - 28-1-2004 at 12:11

Originally posted by Ramiel
it is a vegetable yeast extract and contains ALL the nutrients that yeasts need (and people too)!.

He's right! While the overwhelming majority of food products contain various types of preservetives that preclude a good healthy and quick yeild of yeasties (and resulting ethanol) the vegemite and marmite products use only sugars and some salts to make the product inhospitable to micro-organisms. They contain in particular B-vitamins and sulfurous compounds that are so often a limiting factor in yeast growth.

I looked on that DangerousLabrotories site and found it to be fairly stupid proof but a couple things could be added (like adding a few tablespoons of broken teacup or other impromptu boiling chips to prevent bumping off.

Its also a good idea to watch your electrolyte level in the "mash". Too many sugars will suck the moisture right out of the yeast cells.(osmosis)

However no matter how good your yeast, there is no process that will have you drinking homebrew "by nightfall" that you prepared only that afternoon.

Any yeast that could metabolise and reproduce that fast would burst into flame

Organikum - 29-1-2004 at 07:36

Where I live, we feed the yeast extract to animals and eat the animals later.

T_FLeX - 29-1-2004 at 18:10

I have been making my own alcohol for a while now. You would be surprised on how fast and easy it is!

I use the Turbo Pure 24 and can seriously go from sugar to alcohol in 2 days. 5 dollars for yeast, 8 bucks for a 25 lb bag of sugar ( which provides for 2 batches ) and 24 hours later you have a 14% solution of alcohol. You can basically ferment in anything, you don't have to worry too much about sanitation while using turbo yeast, because fermentation is over in 24 hours, this is not the case when fermenting beer which can take 30+ days to ferment. And contrary to popular belief the yeast do not produce methanol! I’m drunk right now!

Right now im working on getting some pics up on my website of the whole process.

T_FLeX - 29-1-2004 at 18:12

I forgot to mention that turbo yeast needs nothing but sugar to ferment, the yeast nutrients are packaged with the yeast. You can't go wrong!

Please delete if of-topic

Iv4 - 6-2-2004 at 07:15

Pardon my complete lack of knoewledge of chemistry but I think the best way to make thanol on a large scale would be to dissolve ethane i dilute sulfuric acid in a sort of 'bomb'.

I know you need around 2000 tors of presure but with a few layers of satainless steel and expoy you could have something capable of taking it.

Ofourse youll have tobuy the valves for optimum effeciancy :p


Doh,typo :(

[Edited on 7-2-2004 by Iv4]

1000 torr pressure

Organikum - 6-2-2004 at 10:42

are done in a shoebox you troll.

1 bar is about 760 torr.

KABOOOM(pyrojustforfun) - 7-2-2004 at 20:32

u meant ethylene. good idea but doesn't involve biochemistry and thus isn't in the right section...