Ethanol Production from gamma grass, switchgrass, and sugarcane biomass
Monday, April 28, 2014
Exhibit/Poster Hall, lower level (Hilton Clearwater Beach)
Raj Boopathy, Biological Sciences, Nicholls State University, Thibodaux, LA
Approximately half of the 80 billion tons of crop produced annually around the world remains as residue that could serve as a renewable resource to produce valuable products such as ethanol and butanol. Ethanol produced from lignocellulosic biomass is a promising renewable alternative to diminishing oil and gas liquid fuels.  Sugarcane is an important industry in Louisiana.  The recently released variety of “energy cane” has great potential to sustain a competitive sugarcane industry.  It has been demonstrated that fuel-grade ethanol can be produced from post harvest sugar cane residue in the past, but optimized ethanol production was not achieved. Optimization of the fermentation process requires efficient pretreatment to release cellulose and hemicellulose from lignocellulosic complex of plant fiber. Determining optimal pretreatment techniques for fermentation is essential for the success of lignocellulosic ethanol production process. The purpose of this study was to evaluate three pretreatment methods for the energy cane variety L 79-1002 for maximum lignocellulosic ethanol production. The pretreatments include alkaline pretreatment, dilute acid hydrolysis, and solid-state fungal pretreatment process using brown rot and white rot fungi. Pretreated biomass was enzymatically saccharified and subjected to fermentation using a recombinant Escherichia coli FBR5. The results revealed that all pretreatment processes produced ethanol.  However, the best result was observed in dilute acid hydrolysis followed by alkaline pretreatment and solid-state fungal pretreatment.  Combination of fungal pretreatment with dilute acid hydrolysis reduced the acid requirement from 3% to 1% and this combined process could be more economical in a large-scale production system.