Making E85 Ethanol at Home
Making the Alcohol
- Ethanol is the type of alcohol found in normal spirits, such as tequila and whiskey. Like all alcohols, it is made by fermenting sugar with microorganisms that produce ethanol as a byproduct. To get started, you need to grind or mash the grain, such as corn or soy, and then mix in some water. Adding in some enzymes, such as amylase, will break up all of the starches in the grain into simple sugars that are needed to begin the fermentation process. Once the enzymes have completed, add some yeast to begin turning all of that sugar into alcohol.
- When the fermentation process is complete, which takes a varying amount of time depending on how much grain and yeast you used, the result will be a liquid mixture of pulp and other products. All of this needs to be distilled using an old-fashioned still like the ones used to produce moonshine, because that is technically what you are doing. After this is distilled, you will have a mixture of ethanol and other organic compounds that will leave the ethanol impure, so those have to be filtered off as well.
Drying the Ethanol
- Once you have filtered the undesirable organics, you will have a mixture of ethanol and water. Alcohol forms an azeotrope with water, which means you can only purify it to a level of 95 percent alcohol to 5 percent water with simple distillation. To thoroughly dry the ethanol and remove the water, you will need to use a product such as Zeolite to get it as dry as possible. Once this is complete, you will need to mix in sufficient quantities of gasoline to make a mixture of no more than 85 percent ethanol to 15 percent gasoline. Once you have done this, you can use your E85 in any ethanol-ready vehicle and enjoy the savings and the satisfaction of producing your own fuel.