Technology has been rapidly changing — for better or worse — essentially all aspects of our lives for a while now, and now it has set its sights on alcohol. Apparently scientists are now making new, high tech booze by using light instead of heat in the production. The new process promises to require less energy and to produce a more potent brew, all of which sound like things that potentially make me very happy.
Given that evidence shows humans beings began fermenting alcohol no later than the Neolithic period (which began around 10,000 BCE), you would think that we would have perfected the process by now. But 12,000 years later, people are still coming up with new and more effective ways to keep ourselves in liquor. The new process, which was developed by researchers at Rice University in Houston, though they don't think it will replace conventional distillation procedures in the industry any time soon.
Instead of directly applying heat in order to distill their alcohol, the researchers instead took a mixture of water and ethanol that also contained gold-silica nanoparticles and aimed a laser beam at the mixture from above. Due to the properties of the nanoparticles, the mixture then become hot, separating the water from the ethanol, which is exactly what happens during alcohol distillation.
"We are still applying heat, only in a different way," Naomi Halas, one of the resarchers involved in the project, explained to Chemistry World. "For the last 10,000 years we have been boiling water the wrong way – from the bottom. Here we are heating it from the top, which is much more energy efficient as we do not have to heat the entire volume of the liquid."
It's a victory for booze lovers everywhere!
Of course, it would be a long time before alcohol manufacturers could adapt such technology to allow for large-scale production, if they would even want to. After all, as Halas pointed out, current brewing technology is very advanced, and companies might not want to try experimenting with something totally different any time soon. However, if such technology was perfected it could offer a lot of benefits. Not only is it more energy efficient, but current distilling methods can only create a product that is, at most, about 95 percent alcohol, while Halas and her coworkers think their method could yield a 99 percent alcohol concentration.
In other words, science is trying to get you very drunk.