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The efficacy of bioethanol fuelFeatured science projectScience project video

Abstract

This science fair project was done to compare the performance of bioethanol against other types of fuel. The tests were done by comparing the energy produced, as well as the burning time of bioethanol, kerosene, diesel and gasoline.

Hypothesis

Bioethanol has a lower energy density than gasoline. Hence, bioethanol will cause a smaller increase in water temperature when burned.

Scientific Terms

Biofuel, biomass, bioethanol, enzyme, fermentation, microorganisms

Background

Biofuel

Biofuel is fuel that is obtained from biomass. Examples of biofuel are bioethanol, which is derived from the fermentation of plant material, as well as biodiesel, which is made from animal fat or vegetable oil. The use of biofuel is very popular in both the US and Brazil.
The most common biofuel in use today is bioethanol. It is a form of alcohol that is produced from the reaction of enzymes and microorganisms upon starch, sugar or cellulose. The sugar or starch used in the fermentation process is obtained from wheat, sugar cane, corn and other similar plants.

Bioethanol can be used to fuel cars. It can also be used as a substitute for gasoline, or mixed with gasoline. Usually, a 15% proportion of bioethanol is mixed together with gasoline, to be used as fuel in cars. Bioethanol has a lower energy density than gasoline. This means that a greater volume of bioethanol is required to produce the same amount of energy as gasoline. However, bioethanol has a higher octane rating, which indicates a higher level of thermal efficiency and better engine compression ratio.
 

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Complexity level:
7
Project cost ($):
30
Time required:
1 hour for preparation, 1 hour for experiment
Material availability:
Easily available. However, access to a laboratory is required for this experiment
Safety concerns:

Take great care when lighting flammable liquids. Conduct experiment in the presence of a qualified adult supervisor. Keep a fire extinguisher on standby, and perform the experiment in a laboratory.