CHEMISTRY is breaking away slowly but surely from the conceptions held for the last few decades regarding the dependence of mankind on the sources of supply which Nature has presented to him in such immeasurable quantity. Coal and mineral oil as sources of energy seem to us to be irreplaceable, and: the world economist regards with apprehension the consumption of these sources of energy, which, according to human measurements, must one day come to an end. To-day this apprehension is diminishing, since we have learned how to release new sources of energy which will not fail so long as the sun continues to pour down its energy, radiating light and heat so lavishly. Then, it has been discovered that the dissipation of electrons and protons in the sun, from which comes all energy that gives us Life, cannot come to an end in a time that can possibly be measured by man.
Alcohol must be. numbered amongst the sources of energy which can never run out; these sources are renewed from year to year by the sun.
Far its manufacture it is well known that all materials can, be used which contain either fermentable sugars already formed or substances containing, for example, starch flour, which can be converted by chemical treatment into fermentable sugars. Such raw materials are sugar, molasses, beets, fruits rich in sugar, plant juices, berries. Among the starchy materials which can be worked up into alcohol can be mentioned many cereals, potatoes and starch-containing roots (e.g. Manioc). Further, cellulosic materials and also fruit residues, wine and beer yeasts can be used as raw materials. Besides these possibilities, there is also the manufacture of alcohol by purely chemical processes. One needs only to remember the carbide process, the conversion of ethylene from bituminous coal-gas and many known syntheses. Not all the known processes, however, are being worked industrially to-day.
The raw materials.which come into question for the manufacture 'of alcohol in Germany are principally potatoes, followed by cereals, molasses, sulphite pulp liquors and, newest of all, wood. The manufacture of alcohol from calcium carbide has been carried out spasmodically. Potato-spirit distilleries have special significance for East Germany, where there is a light soil. In this case the mash is the principal article of manufacture, whilst the alcohol is a valuable byproduct. The advantages of the use of alcohol for heating and lighting purposes have been sufficiently well known for a long time.
Although in the past, alcohol has always been taken into consideration as a potential fuel because of its calorific value, now the importance of a home-produced supply of power fuel makes the question of power alcohol of cogent significance for the future. In this connection; difficulties were to be expected, since the chemical and physical properties of