STRIVE 113 - The use of novel enzymes for the cleaner, greener production of cellulosic bioethanol

STRIVE 113 - Angela Boyce & Gary Walsh

Summary: The focus of this project was to develop an alternative greener pretreatment method, based on the use of thermoacidophilic enzymes, which aims to improve the efficiency of the pretreatment step and overcome many of the technical, economical, environmental and health & safety related disadvantages associated with current practice.

Published: 2013



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Key Points & Findings
• Significant advances were made towards developing an environmentally-friendly enzymatic pretreatment method, particularly with regard to identifying suitable enzymes.  While further optimisation of this method is necessary, the initial results observed are promising with the developed pretreatment method potentially offering several environmental, technical and health and safety-related benefits.
• The project resulted in the identification of several  additional enzymes of potential application in the cellulosic bioethanol production process, the use of which may potentially contribute to overall process improvement.
• The project has expanded expertise in this area within the research group and has built capacity for further applied research aimed at improving the cellulosic bioethanol production process using enzymes produced by thermoacidophiles.

• Further optimisation of the enzymatic pretreatment method developed using higher, more industrially relevant enzyme dosage levels.
• Further research on the additional enzymes identified in terms of their potential to improve the cellulosic bioethanol production process.
• Research which contributes to overcoming the technical, economical and environmental issues associated with the production of cellulosic bioethanol should be continued to facilitate wide-scale deployment of cellulosic bioethanol with subsequent benefits in terms of GHG emissions, energy security and economic growth. 

Further Information:  Prof. Gary Walsh, Department of Chemical and Environmental Sciences, University of Limerick, Limerick.  E-mail: