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In chemistry, there are three major types of alcohol. These include isopropyl alcohol, methyl alcoholand ethyl alcohol. Each of these types of alcohol has separate properties, so it is important to distinguish which type of alcohol you have for reasons of safety. Each kind of alcohol also has specific applications in personal and industrial environments.
Alcohols are organic compounds with solvent properties, produced by fermentation, distillation of crude oil and other methods. Alcohols are used as fuels and as component of drinks, perfumes, and medical formulations. They are also used as antiseptics and cleaning agents. Tetrahydrofurfuryl, ethyl, isopropyl, n-butyl and furfuryl are some types of cleaning alcohols.
Isopropyl alcohol also is called isopropanol or 2-propanol. More commonly, it is known as rubbing alcohol due to the practice of physicians rubbing the substance on the body for cooling and disinfecting. Produced by combining water and propylene, rubbing alcohol works well for sterilization. Its high evaporation rate makes it a first choice for cleaning electronics, although it is found in everyday cleaning products, as well. Isopropyl alcohol also is found in cosmetics, including lotions. The chemical formula for this type of alcohol is C3H8O.
Methyl alcohol, also called methanol and wood alcohol, is used primarily as an industrial solvent. For example, it is a component in paint remover and photocopier developer. People also use methyl alcohol to make other chemicals. This is because a by-product of degrading methanol is formaldehyde, which may be used to make everything from plastics to explosives. It also works to fuel internal combustion engines and keep fuel from freezing. The chemical formula for methyl alcohol is CH3OH.
Ethyl alcohol, sometimes called grain alcohol, is the alcohol people consume in beverages. People usually take ethyl alcohol in a diluted concentration--the level of the concentration is known as the proof of the alcoholic beverage. Ethyl alcohol is known for its ability to alter mood and behavior. The liver usually is able to filter ethyl alcohol from the human body, but ethyl alcohol still is toxic when consumed faster than the liver can metabolize it. Like methyl alcohol, ethyl alcohol also has uses as an industrial solvent and as a fuel additive. The formula for ethyl alcohol is C2H5OH.
Tertiary butyl alcohol is a flammable and potentially toxic substance used in industrial processes. Molecularly it contains a methyl group, carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. The compound is often used as an industrial solvent, as well as to boost octane levels in gasoline. It is also used for manufacturing perfumes, shellac, artificial leather, and photographic films. Safety measures must be adhered to when using tertiary butyl alcohol; it can be toxic if someone inhales or swallows the substance or gets it on his or her skin.
Isobutanol is an organic compound with the formula (CH3)2CHCH2OH. This colorless, flammable liquid with a characteristic smell is mainly used as a solvent. Its isomers include n-butanol, 2-butanol, and tert-butanol, all of which are important industrially.
Isobutanol is produced by the carbonylation of propylene. Two methods are practiced industrially, hydroformylation is more common and generates a mixture of isobutyraldehydes, which are hydrogenated to the alcohols and then separated. Reppe carbonylation is also practiced.
And isobutanol could indeed function as a relatively effective substitute for gasoline — isobutanol releases just around 82% of the heat energy that gasoline does when burned, as compared to the 67% that ethanol does. And, perhaps more importantly, isobutanol doesn’t possess the same significant drawbacks that ethanol does — in particular, it doesn’t possess ethanol’s unfortunate tendency to absorb water, and thus doesn’t damage conventional engines and pipelines in the same way that pure ethanol does. So, while pure ethanol would only be a viable replacement for gasoline if all of the infrastructure in use today was completely replaced, isobutanol cold simply replace gasoline as is — no new infrastructure needed.
Isobutanol — a high-performance biofuel that closely matches the properties of gasoline — can be produced from waste plant materials through the combined actions of a common fungus and a common bacteria, according to new research from the University of Michigan. When paired up together, the fungus Trichoderma reesei, and the bacteria Escherichia coli, can effectively create the biofuel isobutanol from materials such as cornstalks and plant leaves.
While the production of a useful biofuel is impressive enough, the researchers think that the same principle used to produce the biofuel could be used to produce other useful chemicals, such as plastics.
Isobutanol is also produced naturally during the fermentation of carbohydrates and may also be a byproduct of the decay process of organic matter. The biosynthetic pathway used to produce isobutanol was first discovered in species of bacteria from the genus Clostridium. This pathway has been genetically engineered into several species of microorganisms which are more easily manipulated by current scientific methods than microorganisms of the genus Clostridium.
And isobutanol could indeed function as a relatively effective substitute for gasoline — isobutanol releases just around 82% of the heat energy that gasoline does when burn, as compared to the 67% that ethanol does. And, perhaps more importantly, isobutanol doesn’t possess the same significant drawbacks that ethanol does — in particular, it doesn’t possess ethanol’s unfortunate tendency to absorb water, and thus doesn’t damage conventional engines and pipelines in the same way that pure ethanol does. So, while pure ethanol would only be a viable replacement for gasoline if all the infrastructure in use today was completely replaced, isobutanol cold simply replace gasoline as is — no new infrastructure needed.