Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Ethel alcohol vs steam

  1. Nov 9, 2004 #1
    I have been told steam is used to turn turbines in a power plant. Why wouldn't they use ethel alcohol? It
    has a lower heat of vaporization. So if im not mistaken you would produce roughly twice as much ethel vapor to turn a turbine quicker generating more energy.Any help would be appriciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 10, 2004 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    the problem with heating alcohol isthat its highly combustable and not cheaply available (not as cheap as water in the long run). So whilst you would produce more vapour or alcoholic steam, you would have to be careful to control the heat input or you could end up with a rather large and damaging fireball. Also people working with the alcohol would have to have special training and equipment etc. to use it which adds more to cost which in a business sense is really not viable. Simply put its too dangerous and too expensive.

    On a different note alcohol is used in Brazil and other south american countries where they can produce vast quantities from sugar cane srocks as a cheap alternative to petroleum. The engines have to be adapted i believe so i wouldn't try it on your own car.
  4. Nov 10, 2004 #3
    Thank you Kurdt.
    So it is physically possible to gain a higher efficiency from ethel but not practical in a business sense.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook