What is the process of conversion of sugar into alcohol called?

To convert Sugar into Alcohol, a process called Fermentation is used. Fermentation is a popular process to manufacture alcoholic drinks like beer and wine from sugar. It is one of the oldest methods – more than ten thousand years old– to produce alcoholic beverages. In this article, we explain the process of conversion of sugar into alcohol i.e. Fermentation, and its uses.

conversion of sugar into alcohol

The process of conversion of sugar into alcohol is called Fermentation

In Fermentation, sugars such as glucose, fructose and Sucrose are converted into Ethanol and Carbon dioxide. The process takes place in absence of air, i.e, it is an anaerobic breakdown of molecules. In presence of Oxygen, Glycolysis or breakdown of sugar does not take place and only Carbon dioxide and water are produced without Ethanol. This process in which no alcohol is produced is called cellular respiration. 

This process of conversion of sugar into alcohol is known as Alcoholic Fermentation. It is the most used type of fermentation. It is carried out in the presence of yeasts and other bacteria and fungi. Pyruvate, which is produced by yeast via the EMP pathway and obtained by Zymomonas via the ED pathway, is necessary for the first stage of the alcoholic fermentation.

What is Glycolysis?

Glycolysis, the name for the process by which yeasts break down sugars to produce pyruvate molecules, is the first step of alcoholic fermentation. Two molecules of pyruvic acid are created during the glycolysis of glucose molecules. The two pyruvic acid molecules are subsequently split into ethanol and carbon dioxide.

Pyruvate can be converted to ethanol under anaerobic conditions. It first converts into the intermediate molecule called acetaldehyde, which further releases carbon dioxide, and then acetaldehyde is turned into ethanol. Alcoholic fermentation reduces the electron acceptor NAD + to generate NADH. 

Chemical Reaction of Fermentation

In this section, we present to you the conversion of sugar into alcohol with the help of chemical reactions

First, Sucrose is converted to Glucose with help of an enzyme called invertase as shown below

C12H22O11 + H2O + invertase → 2 C6H12O6

In the next step, glycolysis takes place. In this process, Glucose molecule is broken down into two pyruvate molecules.

C6H12O6 + 2 ADP + 2 Pi + 2 NAD+ → 2 CH3COCOO (pyruvate) + 2 ATP + 2 NADH + 2 H2O + 2 H+

Then, in the next steps, pyruvate is converted to ethanol and CO2, as shown below.


CH3CHO + NADH + H+ → C2H5OH (Ethanol) + NAD+

What are the byproducts of Alcoholic Fermentation?

Byproducts of ethanol fermentation – the process of conversion of sugar into alcohol, include alcohol, heat, carbon dioxide, water, methanol, fuels, and food for cattle. Also, as a by-product, oxygen-starved muscle cells produce lactic acid.

Uses of Fermentation

Fermentation – the process of conversion of sugar into alcohol is widely used for daily products. Some of the popular products are listed below

  1. Beer and Whiskey are produced from fermentation of grain starch
  2. Vodka is also produced from fermentation of grain starch, after enzyme amylase convert it to sugar
  3. Fermentation is also used in Bread Doughs. In the dough, Yeasts consume sugars to form bubbles, resulting in the dough to burgeon. The dough also gets fluffy.
  4. Wine is produced through fermentation of grapes. Fruit Wines are produced from fermentation of other fruits.
  5. Rice Wine is produced with the fermentation of rice, in which the grain starch is converted to glucose through mold Aspergillus Oryzae. 
  6. Rum is produced through the fermentation of Sugarcane. After fermentation, distillation is used to produce the final product.

Ethanol in Fuel 

Ethanol is a domestically produced and renewable fuel. It is an increasing trend to mix ethanol into fuel. Also called Ethanol Blended petrol, it is increasingly being considered an alternative to pure petrol. The Government of India has also launched an initiative called Ethanol Blended Programme (EBP)

Ethanol blending takes place at various levels. For example, E10 means 10% Ethanol and 90% Petrol,  and E15 means 15% Ethanol and 85% Petrol. It is an effective method to decrease dependency on oil imports.

So that’s it.

We hope that you might have liked this article regarding the process of conversion of sugar into alcohol. We hope that it might have improved your knowledge about the process of fermentation. We request you to share this article with your friends and people who would like to know about the process of conversion of sugar into alcohol.

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