The uses of alcohol are very numerous and varied, the principal being, of course, for the production of all alcoholic liquors such as brandy, gin, rum, whiskey, liquors, etc.; that distilled from grain is almost entirely consumed in the manufacture of whiskey, gin, and British brandy. In the arts, strong alcohol is employed by the perfumers and makers of essences for dissolving essential oils, soaps, etc., and for extracting the odor of flowers and plants; by the varnish-makers for dissolving resins; by photographers in the preparation of collodion; by the pharmaceutists in the preparation of tinctures and other valuable medicaments; by chemists in many analytical operations, and in the manufacture of numerous preparations; by instrument makers in the manufacture of delicate thermometers; by the anatomist and naturalist as an antiseptic; and in medicine, both in a concentrated form (rectified spirit), and diluted (proof spirit, brandy, etc.), as a stimulant, tonic, or irritant, and for various applications as a remedy. It is largely consumed in the manufacture of vinegar; and in the form of methylated spirit it is used in lamps for producing heat. It has, in fact, been employed for a multitude of purposes which it is almost impossible to enumerate.
T he common form of alcohol known as "de-natured spirit" consists of alcohol to which one tenth of its volume of wood alcohol, or other de-naturizing agents has been added, for the purpose of rendering the mixture undrinkable through its offensive odor and taste. Methylated spirit being sold tax free, may be applied by chemical manufacturers, varnish makers, and many others, to a variety of uses, to which, from its greater cost, duty-paid spirit is commercially inapplicable. Its use, however, in the preparation of tinctures, sweet spirits of nitre, etc., has been prohibited by law. It has often been attempted to separate the wood spirit from the alcohol, and thus to obtain pure alcohol from the mixture, but always unsuccessfully, as, although the former boils at a lower temperature than the latter, when boiled they both distil over together, owing probably to the difference of their vapor densities.
It is Germany which has led the way in the manufacture and use of "de-natured" alcohol or "spiritus," as it is there known. Germany has no natural gas or oil wells, and gasoline and kerosene are not produced there, hence the necessity of using some other form of liquid fuel. This fuel—in many ways better than any petroleum product—was found in alcohol. The sandy plains of northern Germany, and indeed any agricultural district of that empire, produce abundant crops of potatoes and beets.
From the first, alcohol can be so easily manufactured that the processes are within the understanding and ability of any farmer. The second is used in the manufacture of beet sugar, —one of the great German industries, and the crude molasses, from a refuse product, —still contains from 40 to 50 per cent. of sugar, from which alcohol can be made. Under these circumstances and the great demand for liquid fuel for motor carriages and gas engines, alcohol for "de-naturing" came rapidly to the front as one of the most important of agricultural products, as one of the most valuable "crops" which a farmer could raise. Potatoes are chiefly raised. The potatoes are grown by the farmers and manufactured into alcohol in individual farm distilleries and in cooperative distilleries.
While England and France were somewhat behind Germany in fostering this industry—yet they both were far ahead of the United States in this matter. De-natured alcohol could be readily gotten in these countries, for industrial purposes, while the United States continued to charge a high internal revenue tax on all but wood alcohol. This prevented the use of alcohol in competition with gasoline or kerosene, and limited its use in arts and manufactures.
On June 7, 1906, however, Congress passed the "Denaturing Act," as it is called, which provided in brief that alcohol, which had been mixed with a certain proportion of de-naturing materials sufficient to prevent its use as a beverage should not be taxed-
The passage of this Act was alcohol's new day, and is destined to have a wide influence upon the agricultural pursuits of the country.
In the matter of, small engines and motors alone one estimate places the farm use of these at three hundred thousand with an annual increase of one hundred thousand. This means an economical displacing of horse and muscle power in farm work almost beyond comprehension. If now the farmer can make from surplus or cheaply grown crops the very alcohol which is to furnish the cheaper fuel for his motors, he is placed in a still more independent and commanding position in the industrial race.
As an illuminant the untaxed alcohol is bound to introduce some interesting as well as novel conditions. The general estimate of the value of alcohol for lighting gives it about double the power of kerosene, a gallon of alcohol lasting as two gallons of the oil. In Germany, where the use of alcohol in lamps is most fully developed, a mantle is used. Thus in a short time it may be expected that an entirely new industry will spring up to meet the demand for the illuminating lamps embodying the latest approved form of mantle. The adapting of the gasoline motors of automobiles to alcohol fuel will in itself create a vast new manufacturing undertaking. When this is accomplished it is believed that we shall no more be troubled with the malodorous gasoline "auto" and "cycle" burners on our public streets and parkways.
De-natured alcohol is simply alcohol which has been so treated, as to spoil it for use as a beverage or medicine, and prevent its use in any manner except for industrial purposes.
De-naturing may be accomplished in many ways. In England a mixture suitable for industrial purposes, but unfit for any other use, is made by mixing 90 per cent. of ethyl alcohol (alcohol made from grain, potatoes, beets, etc.), with 10 per cent. of methyl or "wood alcohol." Under the new law the proportion of wood alcohol is cut to five per cent.
In Canada "methylated spirits," as it is known, is composed of from 25 per cent. to 50 per cent. of Wood alcohol mixed with ethyl alcohol. This proportion of wood alcohol is far more than is required in any other country.
In Germany, the de-naturing law passed in 1887 was so framed as to maintain the high revenue tax on alcohol intended for drinking, but to exempt from taxation such as should be de-naturized and used for industrial purposes. De-naturing is accomplished by mixing with the spirit a small proportion of some foreign substance, which, while not injuring its efficiency for technical uses, renders it unfit for consumption as a beverage. The de-naturing substances employed depend upon the use to which the alcohol is to be subsequently applied. They include pyridin, picolin, benzol, toluol, and xylol, wood vinegar, and several other similar products. As a result of this system Germany produced and used last year 100,000,000 gallons of de-natured spirits, as compared with 10,302,630 gallons used in 1886, the last year before the enactment of the present law.
The following are some of the other denaturants used in Germany: Camphor, oil of turpentine, sulphuric ether, animal oil, chloroform, iodoform, ethyl bromide, benzine, castor oil, lye.
In France the standard mixture consists of: 150 liters of Ethyl alcohol, 15 liters of wood alcohol, / liter of heavy benzine, 1 gram. Malachite green.
An illustration of de-naturing on a large scale is given by the methods and operations of a large London establishment. On the ground floor are four large iron tanks holding about 2500 gallons each. On the next floor are casks of spirit brought under seal from the bonded warehouse. On the third floor are the wood alcohol tanks, and on the fourth floor cans of methylating materials. On the fourth floor the covers to the wood alcohol tanks were removed (these tank covers were flush with that floor) and the contents gauged and tested. The quantity to be put into the tanks on the first floor was run off through pipes connecting.
with the first-floor tanks and the upper tanks re-locked. Then going to the second floor, each cask of the grain spirit was gauged and tested and the tank covers, which were flush with the floor, were. removed and the casks of the grain spirit were run into the tanks below. The mixture was then stirred with long-handled wooden paddles and the tank covers replaced, and the material was ready for sale free of tax. The mixture was 10 per cent. wood alcohol and 90 per cent. ethyl alcohol made from molasses, and was what is known as the ordinary methylating spirit used for manufacturing purposes only and used under bond. The completely de-natured spirit is made by adding to the foregoing three-eighths of one per cent. of benzine. This benzine prevents re-distillation.
In the United States there are at present two general formulas for de-natured alcohol in use, either one of which may be used by any manufacturer, who can use de-natured alcohol.
The first and most common one is made up as follows: Ethyl Alcohol 100 gallons. Methyl " 10 " Benzine / "
Where such a formula as this is required in an aqueous solution the benzine is of course thrown out, giving the solution a milky appearance. In this case the other general formula may be used,
Ethyl Alcohol 100 gallons. Methyl " 2 " Pvridine Bases / "
In addition to these two general formulas for denatured alcohol a number of special formulas have been authorized to be used in the manufacture of certain classes of goods.. In order to buy these specially denatured alcohols it is necessary, of course, to obtain a permit first from your Collector of Internal Revenue, a simple permit to use denatured alcohol will not suffice. Some of the, special formulas are as follows: For use in the manufacture of sulphonmethane. Ethyl Alcohol 100 gallons. Pyridin Bases 1 gallon. Coal Tar Benzol 1 " For use in the manufacture of transparent soap.
Ethyl Alcohol 100 gallons.
36°Be. Caustic Soda Solution / " For the manufacture of shellac varnishes.
Ethyl Alcohol 100 parts by volume Methyl " 15 " " " For the manufacture of smoking and chewing tobacco. Ethyl Alcohol 100 gallons.
A mixture made as follows: 1 " Aqueous Solution containing 40% Nicotine 12 gallons Acid Yellow Dye 0.4 lb. Tetrazo Brilliant Blue 12 B Conct. 0.4 lb. Water to make 100 gallons.
For the manufacture of photo-engravings.
Ethyl Alcohol 100 gallons
Sulphuric Ether 65 lbs.
Cadmium Iodide 8 " Ammonium " 3 "
For the manufacture of fulminate of mercury. Ethyl Alcohol 100 gallons.
Pyridine Bases XA "
The next formula may be used for the following purposes:
In the manufacture of photographic dry plates. In the manufacture of embalming fluid. In the manufacture of heliotropin. In the manufacture of resin of podophyllum and similar products.
In the manufacture of lacquers from soluble cotton. In the manufacture of thermometer and barometer tubes.
Ethyl Alcohol—100 gallons. Methyl " 5 " For use in the manufactureof photographic collodian. Ethyl Alcohol 100 gallons. Sulphuric Ether 10 lbs. Cadmium Iodine 10 "
For use in the manufacture of pastes and varnishes from soluble cotton.
Ethyl Alcohol 100 gallons. Methyl " 2 " Benzol " 2 " For use in the purification of rubber.
Ethyl Alcohol 100 gallons. Acetone 10 "
Petroleum naptha 2 " Petroleum naptha must have a specific gravity of not less than .650 nor more than .720 at 60°F. For use in the manufacture of watches.
Ethyl Alcohol 100 gallons
Cyanide of Potassium 1/ lbs. Patched Blue B / oz.
(Acid calcium, magnesium, or sodium salt of the disulpho-acids of meta-oxytetraethyldiamidotriphenyl-carbidrids.)
The methyl alcohol must have a specific gravity of not more than .810 at 60°F.
The de-naturing mixture is best prepared by dissolving the cyanide of potassium in a small quantity of water, and then adding this solution to the alcohol, with which the methyl alcohol, containing the dissolved color, has been previously mixed.
For the manufacture of celluloid, pyralin and similar products.
Ethyl Alcohol 100 parts by volume Methyl " 5 " " " Camphor 7 lbs. Alternative special de-naturant for the manufacture of celluloid, pyralin and similar products Ethyl Alcohol 100 gallons. Methyl " 2 " Benzol " 2 " The strongest alcohol of commerce in the United States is usually 9.5 per cent. alcohol, and the price varies from $2.30 to $2.50 per gallon, showing that the greater part of the cost is due to the revenue levied by the government. The greater part of the 60,000,000 gallons of alcohol consumed in the United States is used in the manufacture of whiskey and other beverages. The revenue tax prevents the use of alcohol to any great extent in the industries of the country. The bill passed by Congress in 1906, designed to promote the use of untaxed alcohol in the arts and as fuel, took effect January 1, 1907. The first effect of free alcohol would, it was said, supplant the 12,000,000 gallons of wood alcohol which are used in the manufacture of paint, varnishes, shellacs, and other purposes. Another use that is expected of de-natured alcohol is in the manufacture of certain products, such as dyestuffs and chemicals, which can not now be manufactured commercially in this country because of the high cost of alcohol, and which are imported largely from Europe. A very rapid development of the industry of manufacturing chemicals as a result of free alcohol is looked for. In the production of alcohol there is always formed as a by-product a certain amount of fusel oil, which is very useful in manufacturing lacquers which are used on metallic susbtances, fine hardware, gas fixtures, and similar articles. The industries manufacturing these wares will undoubtedly receive a great stimulus as a result of cheaper fusel oil caused by the increased production of alcohol.
A Safe Fuel. The use of de-natured alcohol as a fuel has yet to be fully developed. Although alcohol has only about half the heating power of kerosene or gasoline, gallon for gallon, yet it has many valuable properties which may enable it to compete successfully in spite of its lower fuel value. In the first place it is very much safer. Alcohol has a tendency to simply heat the surrounding vapors and produce currents of hot gases which are not usually brought to high enough temperature to inflame articles at a distance. It can be easily diluted with water, and when it is diluted to more than one-half it ceases to be inflammable. Hence it may be readily extinguished; while burning gasoline, by floating on the water, simply spreads its flame when water is applied to it. Although alcohol has far less heating capacity than gasoline, the best experts believe that it will develop a much higher percentage of effi ciency in motors than does gasoline. Since gasoline represents only about two per cent. of the petroleum which is refined, its supply is limited and its price must constantly rise in view of the enormous demand made for it for automobiles and gasoline engines in general. This will open a new opportunity for de-natured alcohol. Industrial alcohol is now used in Germany in small portable lamps, which give it all the effects of a mantel burner heated by gas. The expense for alcohol is only about two-thirds as much per candle-power as is the cost of kerosene. Even at 25 or 30 cents a gallon, de-natured alcohol can successfully compete with kerosene as a means of lighting.
Objection has been made to the use of alcohol in automobiles and other internal-explosive engines, that it resulted in a corrosion of the metal. This is vigorously denied by the advocate of alcohol fuel and the denial is backed by proofs of the use of alcohol in German engines for a number of years without any bad results.
A recent exhibition in Germany gave a good illustration of the broad field in which de-natured alcohol may be used.
Here were shown alcohol engines of a large number of different makes, alcohol boat motors as devised for the Russian navy, and motors for threshing, grinding, woodcutting, and other agricultural purposes.
The department of lighting apparatus included a large and varied display of lamps, chandeliers, and street and corridor lights, in which alcohol vapor is burned like gas in a hooded flame covered by a Welsbach mantle. Under such conditions alcohol vapor bums with an incandescent flame which rivals the arc light in brilliancy and requires to be shaded to adopt it to the endurance of the human eye. There has been each year a great improvement in the artistic models and finish of lamps and chandeliers for alcohol lighting. At the beginning they were simple and of rather ordinary appearance, but now they are up to the best standard of modem fixtures for gas and electricity, with which alcohol lighting is now competing with increasing success in that country.
Similarly attractive and interesting was the large display of alcohol heating stoves, which, for warming corridors, sleeping rooms, and certain other locations, are highly esteemed. They are made of japanned-iron plate in decorative forms, with concave copper reflectors, are readily portable, and, when provided with chimney connections for the escape of the gases of combustion, furnish a clean, odorless, and convenient heating apparatus.
Cooking stoves of all sizes, forms, and capacities, from the complete range, with baking and roasting ovens, broilers, etc., to the simple tea and coffee lamp, were also displayed in endless variety.
Enough has been said to give an idea of the capabilities and values of this new form of fuel,—at least, and as far as the United States is concerned.
With its advent not only will American genius perfect the machinery for its use, but the American farmer is given a new market for his crops.
Distilleries, big and little, are likely to be set up all over the country, and the time is not far distant when the farmer will be able to carry his corn to his local distillery, and either return with the money in his pocket, or with fuel for farm engines, machinery, and perchance his automobile.
When our government shall have become as far-sighted as the German government in this matter, every farmer will be able to manufacture his own de-natured spirits. The wisdom of the German system established by the law of 1887 has long ceased to be a question of debate. For every reichsmark of revenue sacrificed by exempting de-natured spirits from taxation the empire and its people have profited ten-fold by the stimulus which has been thereby given to agriculture and the industrial arts.
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