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Making bioethanol directly from starch

By Tetsuo Satoh |

Today, the cost of enzymes continues to make bioethanol uncompetitive as a fuel. Eliminating the need for amylases, which are used to hydrolyze starch into fermentable sugars, would be a key step toward reducing the operating costs for producing bioethanol. Such a breakthrough has now been achieved, by reachers from Japan, led by Jyun Shima at Ryukoku University (Otsu; www.ryukoku.ac.jp) and Ayumi Tanimura at Kyoto University (Kyoto, both Japan; www.kyoto-u.ac.jp). The scientists have isolated a yeast strain that directly produces ethanol from starch. The researchers use a technique called consolidated bioprocessing (CBP), which integrates enzyme production, saccharification and fermentation in a single reactor using a single yeast strain. Their CBP process is said to be superior to alternative methods that use genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which require a complex production process to ensure physical containment of the GMOs. In this study, the researchers performed comprehensive screening to find natural isolates of yeast that could produce ethanol without having to add amylases. Of the 530 yeast strains tested, three strains were found to produce more than 6 g/L of ethanol. After 10 d of cultivation, ethanol production…
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