Fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum, and natural gas are currently the world’s largest energy supply sources. However, all of it is non-renewable resources which means that it will take extremely long time to be formed and with the huge amount of consumption rate, one day the world will ran out of its main energy source. Therefore, alternative energy sources are needed to cut off the dependence on fossil fuels. One of the best alternative energy sources is ethanol. Ethanol is a renewable energy source as it uses sunlight, which will last almost forever, as a part of its production process. Ethanol is also an environmental-friendly energy source because it helps in reducing smog pollution and carbon dioxide emissions by up to 50%. This makes ethanol a perfect alternative energy source. Ethanol can act as a raw material for polymers such as polyethylene through the dehydration reaction. This dehydration reaction has been known and popular for many decades because of its simplicity, the reaction process is also claimed to be not cost-competitive, which is why ethanol can be used as a raw material for polymers.
Compared to fossil fuels, ethanol have some advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages is its status as a renewable energy source, which is defined as a natural source that refills as time passes and is unlimited. Ethanol is a renewable energy source because it uses sunlight as a source for its production process. Sunlight is required for the photosynthesis process in plants such as corn which can be described by the equation:
The photosynthesis process helps plants to grow and survive before being converted into ethanol. Fossil fuels, however, is a non-renewable energy source.Thousand years are needed for fossil fuels to replenish. It is just a matter of time on when the world will run out of it as the amount of fossil fuels produced cannot compete with the rate of consumption. Ethanol is claimed to be environmental-friendly. It is claimed that ethanol is able to reduce carbon dioxide emmisions by up to 50% compared to gasoline. According to a study conducted by Yale University, using ethanol for dry-mill facilities instead of gasoline is the same as reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 48% to 59%. Nonetheless, ethanol has some disadvantages as well. One of it is the large area of land that is needed to plant the plants in order to convert it into ethanol. Another diadvantage of ethanol is its low heat of combustion. This means that the amount of energy released in the burning of one mole of ethanol is small. Even though it has a lower molar heat of combustion, ethanol is preferred as a fuel compared to other alcohols with longer chains because it is considered to be a safer and a less corrosive substance.
Ethanol can be produced by hydration of ethylene and fermentation of sugar canes. In the hydration of ethylene, ethene is reacted with steam to produce ethanol. This is showed through the chemical equation: