The Process of Industrial Alcohol Production

Aug 27


M R Prusty

M R Prusty

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The development of Industrial alcohol i.e. ethanol became commercially viable on a large scale after 1906 when Industrial Alcohol Act was passed. This act allowed the sale of tax- exempted alcohol if it was first denatured to prevent its use in various alcohol beverages.

A primary industrial alcohol is ethanol, The Process of Industrial Alcohol Production Articles or ethyl alcohol (C2H5OH). The process of alcoholic fermentation is one of the oldest processes and is known as the most important of the industrial fermentations. The alcohol fermentation process has ethyl alcohol being produced from carbohydrate materials by the addition of yeasts. The process is extra cellular.
The yeasts have an ability to convert sugars into alcohol and in the process; there is also a production of other end products which are of great value. These products are used by brewers, bakers and distillers, chemical manufacturers and wine makers etc.
Manufacture of ethyl alcohol

The manufacture of Ethyl Alcohol is done using the raw materials as well as the Micro-organisms used. The process involves several steps that include:

Raw Materials: Molasses is one of the commonly used raw materials in the industrial alcohol production. Molasses is also available at a low cost and is very easily available.    

Micro-organisms: Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae are commonly used for fermentation. The reasons for their use are their rigorous growth, their tolerance for alcohol and their capacity for producing a high yield of alcohol.

The other kinds of media which is put into use for the alcohol production includes the black strap molasses, grains, Whey, Potatoes, Sulfite waste liquor and also some wood wastes.

Steps involved in the process    

The industrial alcohol production can be termed as a large scale biotechnological process which requires large scale tubular tower fermenters (bio-reactors) and involves the following steps:

  • Preparation of the medium: The medium is prepared by adding water to the molasses as this helps in lowering the sugar concentration to the needed level. Later a measured quantity is added in order to adjust the pH state of the acidic side. If starchy mediums like corn or barley are used, the initial procedure of hydrolysis has to be followed.
  • Addition of yeast: Once the desired temperature is adjusted, starter yeast is added and is mixed well with the molasses mash in the tank where the fermentation takes place.
  • Fermentation:The fermentation by the yeast process starts and soon becomes vital.  A large quantity of carbon dioxide is released during this process. The gas such evolved (by-product of the alcohol industry) is composed and purified and is later put to use in various other industries. This process of fermentation is strictly carried out in reactors which are large and the temperature which is maintained is in between 21-27 degrees centigrade. During the process the temperature can go up to 30 C and hence cooling coils are used to bring down the temperature.
  • Separation of ethyl alcohol:The Alcoholic fermentation takes about 48 hours to complete. The fermented medium has content of alcohol and also few other volatile constituents and it also contain the constituents of the molasses which are unused. Hence, the separation of ethyl alcohol from such impurities is done by refining.
  • Purification: Finally, alcohol is by passing it through the rectifying columns and the purified alcohol is later stored in properly bonded warehouses.