With its unique know-how, Tereos is an active player in the alcohol sector. Discover 10 things you might not know about this often misunderstood product!
1. Alcohol is a chemical structure. There are several types, including ethyl and methyl alcohol. Tereos produces ethyl alcohol from agricultural materials, also known as “ethanol”, which is produced after fermentation.
2. It is possible to manufacture alcohol from many plant-based raw materials provided they contain sugar (fruit, sugar beet, cereals, sugarcane). Vodka, for instance, can be manufactured using potato, wheat, or sugar beet substrates. Tereos Sugar France produces alcohol from both starch and sugar substrates.
3. This alcohol production mainly supplies two markets: biofuel and traditional uses. Traditional uses include alcoholic beverages, also known as “spirits”, as well as industrial uses such as perfumery, pharmaceutics, chemicals, and aromas.
4. For traditional uses of alcohol, the manufacturing process involves a fermentation step that makes it possible to obtain an initial liquid, known as “wine”. Then comes the distillation stage: this wine is distilled to produce 92% raw alcohol. The raw alcohol then goes through the rectification stage to remove impurities and to obtain the purest alcohol possible: this high-purity alcohol is 96.3%, and is translucent and colorless.
5. The high-purity alcohol can also be dehydrated, producing a 99.9% anhydrous alcohol. This alcohol is mainly used in cosmetics and aerosols, such as deodorants and deodorizers.
6. To produce biofuel, the raw material is fermented and distilled to make the 92% raw alcohol and then dehydrated. The ethanol no longer contains water and can then be used as a fuel called “bioethanol”.
7. In France, E90, E85, and E10 are biofuels available at the pump. Up to 10% pure ethanol can be blended with gasoline. Unleaded 95 and Unleaded 98 already contain 5% ethanol.
8. Tereos produces alcohols from agricultural materials at various sites: Artenay, Bucy, Lillers, Morains, Nesle and Origny in France (linked to sugar factories); Dobrovice and Koljetin in the Czech Republic (where alcohol is produced from sugar beet alcohol), Saluzzo in Italy, Selby in the UK, and Aalst in Belgium (where sites produce alcohol from cereals). The Brazilian sites only produce biofuel alcohol.
9. The term “strong alcohol” is misleading. The ethyl molecule is still the same, regardless of the alcohol beverage. The alcohol in spirits is not stronger than other beverages (wine, beer, etc.) either; it is only the extent to which the liquid is distilled that changes the alcoholic strength (which must always appear on labels).
10. In the alcoholic beverage sector, the calories in a glass of wine or in spirits come from the alcohol molecule (depending on the percentage of alcohol). The next factor depends on the sugars present in the finished product, the production process (liqueur wines or fruit liqueurs), or the non-alcoholic mixers when consumed (e.g. sodas, fruit juice in a cocktail).
Take a look at our gallery showing the Tereos alcohol-making process!