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80/GJ. 30/GJ. 10/GJ. Page 47 © Copyright Pira International Ltd 2007 Markets for bioethanol 5 Alcohols have been used as fuels since the inception of the automobile. The term alcohol has often been used to represent either ethanol or methanol as a fuel. Ethanol became established as an alternative fuel with the oil crises of the 1970s. Countries like the US and Brazil have long promoted domestic ethanol production. Ethanol/gasoline blends were promoted as an environmentally driven practice in the US initially as an octane enhancer to replace lead.

The choice of the most suitable process will depend upon the kinetic properties of micro-organisms and the type of lignocellulosic hydrolysate in addition to process economics aspects. Traditionally, ethanol has been produced in batch mode. At present, nearly all of the fermentation ethanol industry uses the batch mode. In batch fermentation, the micro-organism works in high substrate concentration initially and a high product concentration finally (Olsson and Hahn-Hagerdal, 1996). The batch process is a multi-vessel process and allows flexible operation and easy control over the process.

In wet milling, only the starch is fermented, unlike dry milling, when the entire mash is fermented. New technologies The production of ethanol is an example of how science, technology, agriculture, and allied industries must work in harmony to change a farm product into a fuel. Ethanol plants receive the large quantities of corn that they need by lorry, rail or barge. 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.

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