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Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Volume 67, 2021, Pages 175-183

Directing carbohydrates toward ethanol using mesophilic microbial communities

Roman Moscoviz1, Robbert Kleerebezem2, Julius Laurens Rombouts2

Delft University of Technology, van der Maasweg 9, 2629 HZ Delft, The Netherlands.


Bioethanol production is an established biotechnological process. Margins are low which prevent a larger scale production of bioethanol. As a large part of the production cost is due to the feedstock, the use of low value unsterile feedstocks fermented by microbial communities will enable a more cost-competitive bioethanol production. To select for high yield ethanol producing communities, three selective conditions are proposed: acid washing of the cells after fermentation, a low pH (<5) during the fermentation and microaerobiosis at the start of the fermentation. Ethanol producers, such as Zymomonas species and yeasts, compete for carbohydrates with volatile fatty acid and lactic acid producing bacteria. Creating effective consortia of lactic acid bacteria and homo-ethanol producers at low pH will lead to robust and competitive ethanol yields and titres. A conceptual design of an ecology-based bioethanol production process is proposed using food waste to produce bioethanol, electricity, digestate and heat.

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