Optimizing Ethanol's Heat Production

Table of Contents

Team information and abstract










Source of Error

Applications of Experiment

Further Research




Ethanol is a well known alcohol that can easily be found in alcoholic beverages. It is flammable and is fully miscible with water and with most organic solutions. In fact, due to its hydroxyl group and hydrocarbon chain structure, it can dissolve both polar and non-polar substances.

The use of ethanol as fuel or fuel additives has been developing over the years and become increasingly popular that it has become the largest use of ethanol now in the globe. Although pure ethanol combusts cleanly with oxygen producing less carbon monoxide and other harmful substances, it produces around 30% less energy than gasoline.

Hydrogen peroxide is a strong oxidizing agent that is slightly acidic and completely miscible with water. It is mainly used in bleaching due to its oxidizing properties but also has various domestic uses in lower concentrations. As a strong oxidizer, hydrogen peroxide spontaneously decomposes into oxygen gas and water through an exothermic reaction. Although the rate of the decomposing reaction depends heavily on temperature and concentration as well as its surrounding, making hydrogen peroxide a dangerous substance when stored without precaution; its properties can be very favorable as the production of energy and oxygen gases from the decomposition can act as catalyst to a highly flammable substance since it continuously supply the burning with oxygen as it decomposes.

There is a potential in mixing ethanol with hydrogen peroxide to increase the amount of energy as well as reducing hazard substances produced during combustion. As hydrogen peroxide decomposes spontaneously to form oxygen gases and energy which catalyzes the combustion of flammable substances, adding hydrogen peroxide to ethanol might result in the production of a higher level of energy. In addition, as carbon monoxide is produced as a result of incomplete combustion due to the lack of oxygen, with the use of hydrogen peroxide, it is possible that the increased amount of oxygen can lower the carbon monoxide emission. Furthermore, although hydrogen peroxide might be dangerous when mixed with highly flammable substances, the decomposition reacts more rapidly in alkali which makes acids a stabilizer to the substance. As ethanol is slightly acidic, it is believed that the two can be mixed safely with one another, as well as being perfectly miscible.

There is an undeniable potential that lies in adding hydrogen peroxide with ethanol in order to produce a more energy sufficient, cleaner, and safe fuel. In the following paper, the effects of adding hydrogen peroxide into ethanol and its capability to be used as burning fuel are investigated and discussed to a further extent.