Wednesday, September 9, 2015
solar energy + starch = ethanol
wiley | A solar reactor was designed to perform the conversion of starch to ethanol in a single step. An aqueous starch solution (5 wt %) was fed into the reactor bed charged with Baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and amylase, resulting in approximately 2.5 wt % ethanol collected daily (ca. 25 mL day−1). A significant amount of ethanol (38 g) was collected over 63 days, corresponding to 84 % of the theoretical yield. The production of ethanol without additional energy input highlights the significance of this new process. The ethanol produced was also demonstrated as a potential fuel for direct ethanol fuel cells. Additionally, the secondary metabolite glycerol was fully reduced to a value-added product 1,3-propanediol, which is the first example of a fungal strain (Baker’s yeast) converting glycerol in situ to 1,3-propanediol.