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By Pira International Ltd

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Combinations of physical and chemical treatments are also used. Use of dilute acid in steam explosion has been found to improve enzymatic hydrolysis, reduce the production of inhibitory compounds, and lead to more complete removal of hemicellulose. It is possible to recover around 70% of xylose as monomer. Acid catalysed steam explosion is one of the most cost-effective processes for hardwood and agricultural residues, but it is not as effective for softwoods. Limitations include incomplete disruption of the biomass structure, Page 32 © Copyright Pira International Ltd 2007 3 Advances in Bioethanol Production of bioethanol destruction of a portion of the xylan fraction and generation of compounds that may inhibit micro-organism uses in downstream processes.

The corn is cleaned, ground and blown into large tanks where it is mixed into a slurry of corn meal and water. Enzymes are added and exact acidity levels and temperatures are maintained, causing the starch in the corn to break down – first into complex sugars and then into simple sugars. New technologies have changed the fermentation process. In the beginning it took several days for the yeast to work in each batch. A new, faster and less costly method of continuous fermentation has been developed.

The power and heat segment may be a much larger market than transport for bioethanol. Below is a summary of markets for bioethanol.  Transport market: in transportation, ethanol is used as a vehicle fuel by itself (E100 – 100% ethanol by volume), blended with gasoline, (E95 – 95% ethanol and 5% gasoline; E85 – 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline; E20 – 20% ethanol and 80% gasoline; E15 – 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline; E10 – 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline and E5 – 5% ethanol and 95% gasoline). Bioethanol is also used as an oxygenate in the clean burning of gasoline and as an economical octane enhancer.

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