What are the steps involved in the conversion of sugar to Ethanol?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Fermentation is a series of chemical reactions that convert sugars to ethanol. The fermentation reaction is caused by yeast or bacteria, which feed on the sugars. Ethanol and carbon dioxide are produced as the sugar is consumed. The simplified fermentation reaction equation for the 6-carbon sugar, glucose, is:

C6H12O6 -> 2 CH3CH2OH + 2 CO2

glucose ->  ethanol + carbon dioxide

Ethanol can be used to dilute gasoline ("gasahol") and increase the available supply.  Mass production of ethanol as an additive to gasoline to help with energy and transportation issues only makes sense if the production of ethanol in the first place doesn't cost more in energy than it would in refining and using that same amount of gasoline.  Producing ethanol from corn (which is produced from fertilizer which is created from oil) isn't efficient;  producing ethanol from sources that do not require a net input of energy may be efficient.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team