Biofuels: Investigating Ethanol Production and Combustion Lab Activity
Physics Educational Materials
Alternative Energy Learning Activities
Demonstrate the Costs and Benefits of Biofuels
- Grades 6-12
- Produce energy from readily available materials
- Appproximate classtime: 3 periods of 50 min each
In three phases of investigation students will gain understanding of alternative fuels, how they are made, what they are used for, and what trade-offs exist. Students begin by fermenting corn and cane sugar, the two food sources used most commonly to produce ethanol. The experiment continues with the distillation of the fermented stillage to produce fuel and studying the energy released by the combustion of ethanol and kerosene. Comparing these results and constrasting the two by-products — CO2 and particulate matter — of the two fuels, students can then discuss the trade-offs of biofuels and fossil fuels as sources of energy. Includes materials for six setups.