PITA Fiscal Year 2008 Projects - Product and Process Design and Optimization

Ethanol Biofuel Production From Molasses Waste Stream With Zymomonas Mobilis Bacteria

Ethanol is a high-octane biofuel which is used primarily as a gasoline additive and extender. The reduction in use of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) due to its environmental problems caused by ground water contamination and surging prices of petroleum-based fuels are dramatically increasing the demand for ethanol and the interest in ethanol production in United States. Ethanol can be produced from various carbohydrates such as sugar, starch, and cellulose by fermentatiom using yeast or other organisms.

The purpose of this project is to develop a low cost fermentation process for ethanol production from molasses waste stream. The mutated or recombinant Zymomonas mobilis will be the ethanol producing bacteria. Several techniques will be evaluated in this project to maintain high cell density in the fermentator and to achieve continuous ethanol fermentation. Higher ethanol concentration in the fermentation broth, and higher sugar conversion to ethanol can be obtained in this process. This process can economize the ethanol fermentation to a great extent compared with the conventional stirred tank fermentator with yeast as the ethanol producing agent