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Ethanol From Orange Peels And Newspapers

Researchers have developed a way to produce ethanol from waste products such as orange peels and newspapers. The approach is 'greener' and less expensive than the current methods available to run vehicles on clean energy and can be applied to several non-food products throughout the United States, including sugarcane, switchgrass and straw.

The new technique uses plant-derived enzyme cocktails to break down orange peels and other waste materials into sugar, which is then fermented into ethanol. The findings are detailed in Plant Biotechnology.

Researchers cloned genes from wood-rotting fungi or bacteria and produced enzymes in tobacco plants. Producing these enzymes in tobacco instead of manufacturing synthetic versions could reduce the cost of production by a thousand times, which should significantly reduce the cost of making ethanol.

Tobacco was chosen as an ideal system for enzyme production because it is not a food crop, produces large amounts of energy per acre and (Of course!) an alternate use could potentially decrease its use for smoking.

Depending on the waste product used, a specific combination or "cocktail" of more than 10 enzymes is needed to change the biomass into sugar and eventually ethanol. Orange peels need more of the pectinase enzyme, while wood waste requires more of the xylanase enzyme. All of the enzymes the team uses are found in nature, created by a range of microbial species, including bacteria and fungi.

Corn starch is currently fermented and converted into ethanol. But ethanol derived from corn produces more greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline does. Ethanol created using the approach produces much lower greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline or electricity.

There's also an abundance of waste products that could be used without reducing the world's food supply or driving up food prices. In Florida alone, discarded orange peels could create about 200 million gallons of ethanol each year. Citation: Verma et al., 'Chloroplast-derived enzyme cocktails hydrolyse lignocellulosic biomass and release fermentable sugars', Plant Biotechnology, January 2010; doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7652.2009.00486.x


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Direct ethanol production from cellulosic materials by the hypersalinetolerant white-rot fungus Phlebia sp. MG-60
Ichiro Kameia, Toshio Moric, Hirofumi Hiraib, Sadatoshi Meguroa, Ryuichiro Kondoc
Department of Forest and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Miyazaki, 1-1 Gakuen-kibanadai,

Yoshiyuki Hirotaa,

nishi, Miyazaki 889-2192, Japan


Department of Applied Biological Chemistry, Faculty of Agriculture, Shizuoka University, Shizuoka 422-8529, Japan Department of AgroEnvironmental Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture, Kyushu University, Fukuoka 812-8581, Japan

Received 25 December 2011. Revised 23 February 2012. Accepted 24 February 2012. Available online 1 March 2012.

White-rot fungus Phlebia sp. MG-60 was identified as a good producer of ethanol from several cellulosic materials containing lignin. When this fungus was cultured with 20 g/L unbleached

hardwood kraft pulp (UHKP), 8.4 g/L ethanol was produced after 168 h of incubation giving yields of ethanol of 0.42 g/g UHKP, 71.8% of the theoretical maximum. When this fungus was cultured with waste newspaper, 4.2 g/L ethanol was produced after 216 h of incubation giving yields of ethanol of 0.20 g/g newspaper, 51.1% of the theoretical maximum. Glucose, mannose, galactose, fructose and xylose were completely assimilated by Phlebia sp. MG-60 with ethanol yields of 0.44, 0.41, 0.40, 0.41 and 0.33 g/g of sugar respectively. These results indicated that Phlebia sp. MG-60 was a good candidate for bioethanol production from cellulosic materials.

White-rot fungus Phlebia sp. MG-60 was the good producer of ethanol from cellulose. Kraft pulp was directly converted into ethanol without addition of cellulase. Newspaper was directly converted into ethanol. Hexoses were completely assimilated by MG-60 with high ethanol yields. Xylose was also completely assimilated with high ethanol yields.

White-rot fungi; Bioethanol; Simultaneous saccharification and fermentation; Waste paper fermentation