History of Ethanol

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The fermentation of sugar into ethanol was one of the earliest biological technologies adopted by mankind. Ethanol has historically been variously identified as wine spirits or spirits, as well as Aqua Vitae or Aqua Vita.

The fermentation of sugar into ethanol was one of the earliest biological technologies adopted by mankind. Ethanol has historically been variously identified as wine spirits or spirits, as well as Aqua Vitae or Aqua Vita. Its intoxicating effects have been known since ancient times. Ethanol has been used by humans as an intoxicating ingredient in alcoholic beverages since prehistoric times. Dry residue on 9,000-year-old pottery found in China suggests that neolithic people drank alcoholic beverages.

 

Ancient natural philosophers such as Aristotle (384-322 BC), Theophrastus (371-287 BC), and Pliny the Elder (23/24-79 AD) were already aware of the inflammability of wine. However, this did not immediately lead to the separation of ethanol, even though more advanced distillation techniques were developed in Roman Egypt in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. An important realization, first found in a work by Jābir ibn Ḥayyān (9th century AD), was that by adding salt to boiling wine, which increases the relative volatility of the wine, the resulting vapors may be increased in combustibility. The Arabic works of Al-Kind ī (c. 801-873 AD) and Al-F ārābī (c. 872-950) and the 28th book of Al-Zahr āwī (Latin: Abulcasis, 936 -- 1013) Kitāb al-ta ṣrīf (later translated into Latin as Liber servatoris). [126] In the 12th century, the formula for producing Aqua Ardens (" burning water ", i.e., ethanol) by distilling wine with salt began to appear in many Latin works, and by the end of the 13th century it had become a widely used method. Known in western European chemists.

 

Taddeo Alderotti's work (1223 -- 1296) describes a method for concentrating ethanol that involves repeated fractionation through a water-cooled still, thereby achieving 90% ethanol purity. The medicinal properties of ethanol were studied by Arnald of Villanova (1240-1311 AD) and John of Rupescissa (C. 1310-1366), who considered it to be a life-preserving substance (water of life) or "water of life", also called by John the essence of wine, that could prevent all diseases.

 

In China, archaeological evidence suggests that true alcohol distillation began during the Jin (1115-1234) or Southern Song (1127-1279) dynasties. A still dating back to the 12th century was discovered at an archaeological site in Qinglong City, Hebei Province. In India, true alcohol distillation was introduced from the Middle East and was widely used in the Delhi Sultanate by the 14th century.