Fermentation of Pulp Mill-derived Hemicellulose Extract to Ethanol

Who’s Involved?

My Research

Dilute hemicellulose extract has been successfully fermented to ethanol using the cofermenting E. coli KO11. To date titers of sugar and ethanol in the fermentation are low. Attempts at concentrating the sugars have resulted in the apparent concentration of inhibitory compounds that limit the fermentation, necessitating the use of dilute solutions. Work is progressing to identify the inhibitory compounds and to develop more robust cultures.

In Other Words

Waste materials that are normally burned in a furnace at pulp mills are being converted to ethanol, which is a clean burning fuel that can be used to power automobiles. The conversion of waste wood extract streams to ethanol is difficult because the wood extract contains compounds that are harmful to the organisms that produce the ethanol. Research is looking at ways to render the conversion process more robust.

What’s New on this Project?

Fermentation experiments have now demonstrated the conversion of hemicellulose extract to ethanol using E. coli KO11. The fermentation appears to be inhibited by the presence of other components of the extract. Work is currently underway to identify the inhibitory agents and to improve the viability of the culture in the growth medium.