Ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, pure alcohol, grain alcohol, or drinking alcohol, is a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid. It is a psychoactive drug, best known as the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages and in modern thermometers. Ethanol is one of the oldest recreational drugs known to man. In common usage, it is often referred to simply as alcohol or spirits.
The fermentation of sugar into ethanol is one of the earliest organic reactions employed by humanity. The intoxicating effects of ethanol consumption have been known since ancient times. In modern times, ethanol intended for industrial use is also produced from by-products of petroleum refining.
Ethanol has widespread use as a solvent of substances intended for human contact or consumption, including scents, flavorings, colorings, and medicines. In chemistry, it is both an essential solvent and a feedstock for the synthesis of other products. It has a long history as a fuel for heat and light and also as a fuel for internal combustion engines.
The largest single use of ethanol is as a motor fuel and fuel additive. The largest national fuel ethanol industries exist in Brazil (gasoline sold in Brazil contains at least 25% ethanol and anhydrous ethanol is also used as fuel in more than 90% of new cars sold in the country). The Brazilian production of ethanol is praised for the high carbon sequestration capabilities of the sugar cane plantations, thus making it a real option to combat climate change.
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