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ALCOHOL














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Alcohol

Graphic: Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus ab Hohenheim Paracelsus;The name "alcohol" comes from the Arabic al-kuhl, meaning "delicate powder." Paracelsus was the first one to use the word.

Popularised by the German physician, alchemist and logician Andreas Libavius or Libau (1540-1616), it replaced the earlier expression spiritus vini.

Chemically, ethyl alcohol or ethanol (CH
3
CH2OH) is an organic compound derived from carbohydrates. It is a colourless liquid with a burning taste and a characteristic odour.

 

Its specific weight at 20oC is 0.785 g/cm3, and its boiling point is 78.4oC.

The Franciscan theologian and philosopher Raimundus Lullus was the first person to extract almost pure, almost waterless alcohol. In the thirteenth century he distilled it from wine mixed with slaked lime.

The first to distil absolute alcohol was the Russian chemist and pharmacist Tobias E. Wovitz, in 1796.


Ethanol is made mainly through the biological process of fermentation.

For industrial purposes (chemicals, cosmetics, medicine, pharmaceuticals, fuels) it is synthesised from ethylene (first by Michael Faraday in 1828), carbon monoxide and hydrogen, or acetylene (since 1912).

The name alcohol is commonly applied to spirits, in reality a mixture of ethanol (95.57%) and water (4.43%) which is azeotropic, that is, not separated in ordinary distillation.

The alcohol content or strength of the solution is often expressed as a percentage of the liquid's total volume
















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