How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 195

I've heard of people using moonshine as fuel for cars and pick up trucks. Is that possible and, if it is, how well does it work?
Yes, it's probably possible. Moonshine (and any distilled spirits) is a mixture of ethanol (ethyl alcohol) and water. Depending on how picky you are during the distilling process, the water content may be as low as 10% (you can't do better by distilling because 4.4% water and 95.6% ethanol form an azeotrope—a low boiling point mixture blend that can't be separated by distilling). Ethanol burns nicely and should make a pretty good fuel. Obviously, the less water the better, because water doesn't burn and may impede the combustion of ethanol. Ethanol is often included in gasoline to reduce exhaust emissions, but only at about the 10% level. Unfortunately, ethanol is also more corrosive than normal gasoline, so people worry about it damaging their engines.

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