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How to get alcohol?

There are many ways to get food and technical spirits. These methods can be divided into two groups - chemical and biochemical. At the same time using the first produced synthetic alcohols (technical), and using the second - bio-alcohols (food).

How to get alcohol by fermentation

Wine or ethyl alcohol can be obtained by various chemical and biochemical methods. The oldest and most common method is alcoholic fermentation followed by dehydration (removal of water).

It is quite difficult to obtain ethyl alcohol by fermentation, in which yeast is involved. It has been established that fermentation is not provoked by the yeast itself, but by the specific substances secreted by them - zymase. In the process of fermentation, glucose C6H12ABOUT6 is converted to alcohol and carbon dioxide by the following equation:

  • FROM6H12ABOUT6→ 2CO2+ 2C2H5HE + energy

where sb2- carbon dioxide, and C2H5HE - ethyl alcohol.

Not only glucose, but also other sugary substances contained in nature as plant components (for example, in juice) can be subjected to alcoholic fermentation.What is alcohol produced in this case? From potatoes, beets, grains of wheat, oats, rice, etc.

If a raw material rich in starch is used in the preparation of alcohol, it must first succumb to saccharification - the conversion of starch into sugar by the action of certain enzymes. When this occurs, the reaction according to the following formula:

  • (FROM6H10ABOUT5)n+ nН2O + ENZYME → nС6H12ABOUT6

where (C6H10ABOUT5)n- starch.

After converting the starch to sugar, it is already much easier to get ethyl alcohol from glucose. If, when obtaining alcohol, sugar-containing raw materials are used, then the process is reduced to the fermentation of the processed sugar juice.

Fermented raw materials are distilled due to the rectification process. For this alcohol-containing liquid is heated (brought to a boil). When boiling alcohol evaporates and enters the distillation column, and then into the reflux condenser. In the reflux condenser, the vapors come into contact with the cooled surface, condense, flowing into the tank, and form liquid alcohol.

Ethylene hydration

Alcohol can be obtained from ethylene (gas) in the presence of concentrated strong acid (phosphoric, sulfuric).The process is carried out in an autoclave. Sulfuric acid hydration occurs according to the following scheme:

  • FROM2H4+ H2SO4→ C2H5ABOUT2-SO2
  • H3C-CH2-O- SO2HE + N-O-H → H3C-CH2-ON + H2SO4

The total equation is:

  • H2C = CH2+ N2O → H3C-CH2-OH (in the presence of sulfuric acid H2SO4)

Other methods for producing alcohols

How to get alcohol from alkane (its halogen-derivative)? What is needed is a reaction that occurs by the type of hydrolysis. The result is ethyl alcohol and sodium chloride salt:

  • FROM2H5CI + NaOH → C2H5OH + NaСl

To obtain alcohol from ketones or aldehydes, it is necessary to carry out the ethylation reaction of these compounds (another name is the Favorsky reaction). At the same time, ketones, alkynes and aldehydes (usually formaldehyde) in the basic medium (for example, KOH) enter into the reaction. The reaction occurs according to the following scheme:

  • RC≡CH + CH2O → RC≡C-CH2OH
  • HC≡CH + 2CR2O → HOCR2-C≡C-CR2OH

where R is the radical CnH2n + 1

How to get alcohol from ether by hydrolysis? It is worth knowing that the hydrolysis itself is a chemical process in which, under the influence of water, the decomposition (decomposition) of the initial substances occurs with the formation of new compounds. The hydrolysis of esters with the formation of alcohols occurs according to the following equation:

  • RO-OR΄ + NaOH → RO-ONa + HO-R΄


  • R - radical СnH2n + 1
  • R΄ - radical СnHn + 2
  • RO-OR΄ - air
  • NaOH - sodium hydroxide
  • RO-ONa - sodium carboxylate
  • HO-R΄ - alcohol

Alcohol can be obtained from acetic acid in several ways.

  • Hydrogenation of acid: CH3COOH + 2H2→ N2O + C2H5OH (process occurs in the presence of nickel or platinum)
  • Reduction of acetic acid derivatives (or other carboxylic acids): CH3COOH + C2H5HE → CH3-CO-O-C2H5+ N2O (in the presence of sulfuric acid, an ester is formed - ethyl acetate). CH3-CO-O-C2H5+ Na [C2H5OH] → C2H5OH + C2H5Ona
  • The direct reduction of acetic or other acids to obtain alcohol is possible by reaction with lithium aluminum hydride. Here is the final process equation: 4CH3-COOH + LiAlH4→ 4CH3-CH2-OH + Al (OH)3+ LiOH

By the described methods (from alkanes, acids, ketones, aldehydes and other starting materials), technical alcohol is obtained. Food alcohol from various raw materials is obtained only by fermentation.


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