NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ838138
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-May
Pages: 3
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 7
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9584
Ethanol as an Alternative Fuel for Automobiles: Using the First Law of Thermodynamics to Calculate the "Corn-Area-per-Car" Ratio
Pietro, William J.
Journal of Chemical Education, v86 n5 p579-581 May 2009
Students will use the first law of thermodynamics to determine the feasibility of using corn ethanol as an alternative to fossil fuels in automobiles. Energy flow is tracked from the Sun, to photosynthesized carbohydrate, to ethanol through fermentation, and finally to work in the combustion engine. Feasibility is gauged by estimating a "corn-area-per-car" ratio: the area of Earth on which sufficient corn must grow to support the energy needs of an average motor vehicle. This exercise requires students to gain an understanding of the thermochemistry of combustion, fermentation, and the energetics of photosynthesis through an issue of current environmental significance.
Division of Chemical Education of the American Chemical Society. Subscription Department, P.O. Box 1267, Bellmawr, NJ 08099-1267. Tel: 800-691-9846; Tel: 856-931-5825; Fax: 856-931-4115; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A