This Biosynthesis of Ethanol from Molasses experiment is a green modification of the traditional ethanol synthesis. The sugar source for this experiment is blackstrap molasses, which is a waste product of the sugar industry and can be found at agricultural feed stores. The molasses, water, and yeast are combined and left to ferment for a week (or longer) forming the ethanol product. The ethanol is then collected using simple distillation and further purified using fractional distillation.
This experiment is used early in the year to teach the distillation technique and to familiarize the students with tapered glassware. The students enjoy this experiment, both because of the green message and the fun of distilling alcohol. Students have a very high rate of success with this experiment.
Summary prepared July 2006 by John E. Thompson, Science Division at Lane Community College.
Thompson, J. E. Biosynthesis of Ethanol from Molasses, Science Division, Lane Community College, 2006