Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso


  • Kensei Kobayashi
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_535-4



Ethanol is an organic compound belonging to the group of alcohols whose structural formula is C 2H 5OH. It is a constituent of alcoholic beverages. Ethanol is a colorless, volatile, and flammable liquid. Its melting and boiling points are −114.3 °C and 78.4 °C, respectively. It is made from sugar by fermentation, and it is metabolized in vivo to carbon dioxide via acetaldehyde and acetic acid. Ethanol has rotational isomers, and they are referred to as trans-ethanol and gauche-ethanol (Fig. 1). In 1975, trans-ethanol was identified as an interstellar molecule, while gauche-ethanol was detected in 1996. Ethanol condenses with carboxylic acids to form esters, and it condenses with itself to form diethyl ether.


Acetic Acid Carbon Dioxide Organic Compound Carboxylic Acid Diethyl Ether 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yokohama National UniversityYokohamaJapan