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Letters in applied microbiology

Optimization of process variables for minimization of byproduct formation during fermentation of blackstrap molasses to ethanol at industrial scale.


PMID 19146530

Abstract

To investigate the effect of molasses concentration, initial pH of molasses medium, and inoculum's size to maximize ethanol and minimize methanol, fusel alcohols, acetic acid and aldehydes in the fermentation mash in industrial fermentors. Initial studies to optimize temperature, nitrogen source, phosphorous source, sulfur supplement and minerals were performed. The essential nutrients were urea (2 kg in 60 m(3)), 0.5 l each of commercial phosphoric acid and sulfuric acid (for pH control) added at the inoculum preparation stage only. Yields of ethanol, methanol, fusel alcohols, total acids and aldehydes per 100-l fermentation broth were monitored. Molasses at 29 degrees Brix (degree of dissolved sugars in water), initial pH 4.5, inoculum size 30% (v/v) and anaerobic fermentation supported maximum ethanol (7.8%) with Y(P/S) = 238 l ethanol per tonne molasses (96.5% yield) (8.2% increase in yield), and had significantly lower values of byproducts than those in control experiments. Optimization of process variables resulted in higher ethanol yield (8.2%) and reduced yield of methanol, fusel alcohols, acids and aldehydes. More than 5% substrate is converted into byproducts. Eliminating or reducing their formation can increase ethanol yield by Saccharomyces cerevisiae, decrease the overall cost of fermentation process and improve the quality of ethanol.

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