18 October 2013

Production of Ethanol by Thermaophilic Microorganisms from Hemicellulosic Materials

Organised by:

SCI's Biotechnology Group in conjunction with the University of Westminster

University of Westminster

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First generation ethanol is produced from food based materials such as starch, sugar cane and sugabeet juices, while the ethanol produced from the non-food based feedstocks is called 'Second Generation Bioethanol'. Numerous feedstocks are under investigation to achieve this. Most of these feedstocks contain cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin and therefore are known as lignocellulosic materials.

One of the crucial steps is to release sugars from these feedstocks and various hydrolysis protocols have been optimised for this purpose. Many of the sugars released in the hydrolysis processes are recalcitrants and no ethanol-producing micro-organism can use all of the major sugars of such feedstocks.

However, there are microorganisms which can use all of the major components of the feedstock but they are unable to produce ethanol in an appreciable amount. Therefore, a microorganism needs improvement and most probably a genetic modification in order to be used in a second generation ethanol production. For ethanol-producing micro-organisms there is a need to introduce major sugar metabolising pathways and for microorganisms which can already use these sugars there is a need to modify their metabolic pathways for ethanol production.

The work on both kinds of microorganisms has been carried out and both strategies have their own pros and cons. Fermentation of lignocellulose based sugars or feedstock hydrolysates by such microorganisms, has shown great potential for the second generation biofuel production. One challenge in the second generation biofule production is the separation of ethanol from low stream and here the use of Geobacili (thermophilic bacteria) can become very useful and low stream of ethanol can be separated cost effectively, especially with some downstream process modifications.

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University of Westminster

University of Westminster, School of Life Sciences, 115 New Cavendish Street London W1W 6UW

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Additional Info


Dr Muhammad Javed & Dr Namdar Baghaei-Yaxdi, Department of Molecular and Applied Biosciences, University of Westminster