Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cheap sugar: the key for bioethanol to survive

Bioethanol industry is facing another winter time in its history due to current cheap oil/gas price. Most people believe the price of oil will back up again sooner or later. The question is when? The good news is the incentive policy and stimulus fund from the new government that will bring the spring this industry. However, the long term survival will depend on its own economic viability. The key is the cheap sugar and apparently the renewable source is lignocellulosic biomass. Generally only 2/3 of biomass weight is carbohydrate that can be converted into monomeric sugars for fermentation. The question is how to obtain them with a high yield in a cheap way. The current hydrolysis technology is still not good enough to realize this.

Enzymatic hydrolysis is a direction for bioethanol production from lignocellulosic biomass. Ideally a or a combination of chemicals are used to remove both hemicelluloses and delignification simultaneously, the resulting solid is mostly cellulose with more exposed and accessible surface and pores, free chain ends, leading to lower enzyme loading, high enzyme selectivity, and fast rate of hydrolysis.
The cheap sugar is calling on advanced enzyme!

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