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Bio-booze boosting - Improving bio-ethanol fermentation by enzymatic pretreatment
Environmental and economic reasons motivate focused research on biofuel production. The new research programme MicroDrivE – Microbially Derived Energy, offers a series of MSc projects within bio-preservation, enzymatic pre-treatments, ethanol fermentation, bioprocessing of byproducts, biogas production and fertility effects of bioresidues. The projects are supervised by scientists from the Departments of Microbiology, Molecular Biology, and Chemistry at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Uppsala. MicroDrivE cooperates with a number of biotech and bioenergy companies. For information on the other MSc projects use the search function ”Fritext” to search for MicroDrive.
Background and goal
In this project we want to investigate how and to which extent we can enhance the yield or otherwise improve the ethanol production process by treating the raw material with various enzymes prior to and/or during the fermentation. When sugar crops are used, i.e. sugar beet or sugar cane, soluble sugars are rather easily extracted, whereas with starch crops (e.g. wheat, corn, potato) the starch must first be hydrolysed to fermentable saccharides, which is usually done with enzymes. In both cases, however, considerable amounts of carbohydrates are retained in the residual material, mainly in the form of insoluble polysaccharides such as cellulose and various hemicelluloses. Some of this fraction may be degraded to fermentable sugars by added enzymes and the treatment may also enhance the extraction efficiency, both factors adding to the total yield. Various enzymes, primarily cellulases and hemicellulases, will be used, alone and in combination and the effects monitored on initial yields of soluble sugars and final yields of ethanol from the fermentation. The enzyme addition may also enhance or otherwise affect the utilization of the residuals in subsequent biogas fermentation, which may be the subject of further studies within the programme. Your role and the contents of the MSc project will depend on the current needs for investigations within the program and which techniques you are most interested to practice. It may range from enzymatic treatment of starting material and analysis of soluble carbohydrates, via fermantation experiments and measurements of ethanol yields, to evaluation and process optimization. We will make a detailed experimental plan together at start of the project.
We are looking for a student within the biochemistry; microbiology, and biotechnology area interested in future technologies for bio-fuel production and environmental concerns.
For information on the Department of Molecular Biology, SLU, visit Web-site: http://xray.bmc.uu.se; and on the Department of Microbiology, SLU, visit Web site http://www.mikrob.slu.se
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