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High-temperature Fermentation of Ethanol and Biorefinery from Lignocelluloses

Scientists and officials gathered this Tuesday at Institute of Microbiology (IM) to evaluate the mid-report of a fuel ethanol research project “High-temperature Fermentation of Ethanol and Biorefinery from Lignocelluloses” led by Dr. MA Yanhe.

Energy issue has been one of the major concerns of the world community in recent years. Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) launched this project in January 2008 trying to gain fuel ethanol out of wood fiber for industrial application. After two years of intensive work, research team of this project have published 63 papers and filed 14 patent applications.

The technical process for high-temperature fermentation and biorefinery of ethanol from lignocelluloses was established. Progresses have been made in both ethanol production and its necessary equipment. For example, they have created a combined pretreatment method based on a technique called clean steam explosion. A new fed-batch enzymatic hydrolysis process improves the concentration of substance, reducing sugar and glucose. After optimization of fermentation conditions and reconstruction of genetic engineering, applicable strains that produce high level of cellulase with activity higher than 10 IU FPU/ml have been constructed. Yeast strains capable of production of ethanol at high temperature and qualified for industrial application have been obtained as well. They produce 95% of the theoretical sugar-to-ethanol conversion rate under a condition of 0.2% acetate, 36 h of fermentation at 40℃. Researchers have established method and equipment to produce the high-quality pervaporation membrane.

The evaluation committee led by CAS member YANG Shengli praised the advances of this project and encourage the team to speed up the related process.

The advances of this project will also be displayed on the Advanced Biofuel Technologies of the World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology & Bioprocessing which will be held at Washington DC, USA in June 27-30, 2010.

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Institute Of Microbiology Chinese Academy of Sciences
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