Investigation of the Environmental and Monetary Implications of Butanol, Ethanol, and Methanol

The object of this experiment was to determine the energy produced by three different alcohols and their monetary and environmental implications. The research was conducted to determine which alcohol fuel would be a viable alternative to gasoline based on amount of alcohol produced by a given amount of biomass, production cost, and amount of energy produced. The experiment investigated three alcohols: butanol, ethanol, and methanol. Data was collected by burning the alcohol in a bomb calorimeter and recording the amount of energy produced by equal amounts of each type of alcohol for a total of 36 trials. An Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) test and box-plot graphs confirmed the hypothesis that butanol would produce the highest amount of energy at 35,211 J/g. Ethanol has the highest production volume from a given biomass, but produces less energy at 24,231 J/g. Methanol and butanol both have a lower cost of production than ethanol, but methanol only produces 17,611 J/g of energy. The experiment shows that varying types of alcohols result in different amounts of energy produced, when considering both heat capacity and production costs.

Research Done By:

Amber Hauer
Sterling Heights High School

Holly Steinberger
Cousino High School