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Biofuels: Investigating Ethanol Production and Combustion

Kit #39S
Biofuels: Investigating Ethanol Production and Combustion

This activity includes three major parts. In Investigation One, Part A, you demonstrate fermentation of corn and cane sugar, the two sources used most commonly in production of ethanol fuel. In Investigation Two, each group of students investigates the energy released by combustion of ethanol or kerosene, and the class compares the results. In Investigation Three, each group of investigates the by-products of one of the two fuels. Students compare results and discuss the trade-offs of biofuels and fossil fuels as sources of energy. Then you return to Part B of Investigation One, and demonstrate the distillation of the product of fermenting corn and cane sugar.

Details at a Glance

  • 3-5 Days | 3-5 ~50 minute class periods
  • 3 Activities
  • Accommodates 1 class, with 6 groups of 4 students
  • Consumables service 24 students
  • Meets our criteria for supporting literacy
  • Includes digital resources
  • Developed in partnership with SEPUP
  • Requires a water source

Complete Kit Equipment Package

Biofuels: Investigating Ethanol Production and Combustion

Need to Extend Your Kit Materials?

Scientific Concepts

•Complex chemical reactions occur all around us, for example in processes used to produce energy, such as combustion
•Chemical reactions may release or consume energy. Some reactions such as the burning of fuels release large amounts of energy by losing heat and by emitting light
•Students conduct scientific investigations, use mathematics to improve investigations, and formula models using evidence
•The earth does not have infinite resources; increasing human consumption places stress on the natural processes that renew some resources, and it depletes those resources that cannot be renewed
•Many changes in the environment designed by humans bring benefits to society, as well as environmental impacts and risks. Students should understand the costs and trade-offs of various decisions
•Decisions about new research and technology, such as those related to energy issues, involve assessment of alternatives, risks, costs, and benefits
KEY VOCABULARY: biofuel, byproduct, carbon dioxide, combustion, distillation,
ethanol, fermentation, pollutant

Guides & Student Sheets

Our kits and modules provide you with everything you need so you can open, review, and teach the material confidently the next day.

  • Full downloadable Teacher Guide with background information, detailed instruction, example data and answers
  • Downloadable Student Sheets with age appropriate background information, full procedure(s), and analysis questions
  • All materials necessary to carry out the investigation
  • Safety Data Sheets

Kit Components

  • 1 Teacher’s Manual with MSDS
  • 28 Student Worksheets and Guides
  • 12 30-mL graduated cups
  • 6 Glass fuel burners
  • 6 Pieces of aluminum foil
  • 6 180-mL plastic bottles with caps
  • 6 15-mL dropper bottles with bromthymol blue solution (BTB)
  • 6 15-mL dropper bottles of 0.05 M sodium hydroxide (NaOH)
  • 3 45-cm pieces of clear plastic tubing
  • 2 LAB-AIDS® Condensers
  • 2 1-holed #3 rubber stoppers (for condensers)
  • 2 2-holed #7 rubber stoppers (for flasks)
  • 2 plastic funnels
  • 1 50-mL graduated cylinder with base
  • 1 240-mL bottle of ethanol
  • 1 240-mL bottle of kerosene
  • 1 Transparency 1: Energy Results for Ethanol and Kerosene
  • 1 Transparency 2: Combustion Equations
  • 1 Transparency 3: Hydrocarbon Combustion
  • Not included and needed for instruction: (2) 250-mL flasks (that will fit a #7 stopper), (2) 250-mL beakers, 1 packet of fresh yeast (per class), table sugar (30 mL per class), corn syrup (30 mL per class), glycerol (5 mL), paper towels, class set of safety goggles, (6) balances, (2) 50-mL beakers, (2) hot plates, (1) 10- or 25-mL graduated cylinder, (1) small cooler or ice bucket full of crushed ice, matches, (6) 100-mL graduated cylinders, (6) metric rulers, (6) aluminum soft drink cans, (6) paper clips, (6) ringstands, (6) clamps, (6)  immersion thermometers, tongs.

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