An alcohol is a saturated molecule that contains an -OH group. The H atom found in the O-H bond can form a hydrogen bond with water and other alcohol molecules. This is why a lot of alcohols are soluble in water and have quite high boiling points.

The most important alcohol used for commercial purposes is ethanol (C2H5OH). It is used as a fuel and solvent in its pure form and is present in alcoholic drinks in impure form.

Ethanol manufacture

Ethanol is manufactured industrially in two different ways:

  • fermentation of sugars
  • hydration of ethene

Which method is used is dependent on the purity desired and what raw materials are available.

Fermentation of sugars

It is possible for sugars like glucose to be fermented using yeast between 35