Yeast makes it possible to extract up to 40 percent more ethanol than before from cellulose-based raw materials from agriculture and forestry. After years of tests in laboratories ethanol company Sekab can prove that the new yeast works on a large scale reports the Swedish Science Radio.
SEKAB is one of Europe's leading ethanol players. They produce and distribute bio-ethanol as fuel and green chemical products, and develop next-generation ethanol process based on cellulose. It has been difficult to convert cellulose to large amounts of ethanol and the reason is precisely the cellulose structure.
Common yeast can break down sugar molecules that contain six carbon atoms. But cellulose contains a mixture of six carbon sugar and five carbon sugar. The new yeast can break down five carbon sugar and is thus a more efficient way to produce ethanol. Now the researchers managed to do it on a larger scale in Sekab demo plant. The experiments have used residue from corn cobs. But almost anything from the vegetable world may in future be used to create ethanol.
- There is an almost infinite raw material base but you have to use it in an environmentally responsible, prudent way while landing in a process that can generate revenue, "said Sune Wännström, research director at Sekab.