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Optimization of Ethanol Production

The use of ethanol as fuel in recent times is fast turning the commodity into a form of human tradition as far as energy supply is concerned. Though the first use of ethanol as fuel was in the nineteenth century, it was not given as much interest as it receives today. After its first discovery then as a source of fuel, it was later discarded for the much preferred petroleum fuel. It ironically came back into focus during the seventies with the inception of what is known as the world’s first oil crisis. Today, it is seen as the alternation source of energy for the future.

This recent overwhelming popularity is owed to the world increasing energy demand as well as the world wide call for a cleaner source of energy that will help eradicate the increasing growth of greenhouse gases being released as result of extensive use of fossil fuels in industries. Ethanol produced from biomass is known to be a very environmental friendly fuel as it does not release greenhouse gases such as carbon (IV) oxide (CO2) that is known to be a major cause of global warming. One may love to ask at this point, how this is

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possible.

We all know that organic compounds produce carbon (IV) oxide after combustion. So ordinarily, one would expect the ethanol based fuel to release CO2 that will also contribute to global warming. However, ethanol is known linked to the process of photosynthesis which utilizes or absorbs the CO2 released. This phenomenon is responsible for the wide research for ways of optimizing the production of ethanol. Another vital issue responsible for its wide acceptance is the fact that it is considered to be a renewable energy source.

This is because raw materials for its production are readily available and easy to generate in a short time. The next question in line with regards to the preferred use of this fuel is its affordability. This is an issue researchers are currently working on. Although bio-ethanol can be said to be relatively affordable, more research aimed at breaking all the barriers to the production of even more affordable ethanol are currently going on. Countries like the USA, Brazil as well as Canada are topping the list of such advanced research. These countries have already made the commercial production of ethanol possible.

Thus, ethanol based biogas can be purchased from roadside gas stations in these countries. The major raw materials the production of ethanol vary too some great extent, but they all have all have one thing in common; they are all organic materials either from plants or animal. This is another issue that makes ethanol fuel very popular. Thus, since the organic raw material varies in abundance with respect to various countries. Each country then has the opportunity of choosing the particular raw materials most available to them for a smooth production.

For instance in Brazil sugar cane is very abundant and is thus used for ethanol production. The process involves the crushing of the sugar cane and the subsequent fermentation of sugar extracted from the raw material (sugar cane). The fermentation is induced by microbes. This is the most widespread method used for sugar conversion to fluid fuels, in this case; ethanol. This use of microbes or enzymes to transform one material into another is commonly known as bio-catalysis. The process is also peculiar to some commonly used sugar such as those from cornstarch (glucose).

The later mentioned process is today regarded as the most matured and widely used. However, some other processes such the production of ethanol from the mixture of sugars present in lignocelluloses pose great challenges if properly harnessed. Current Technologies in Bio-fuels (ethanol) Recent researches reveal that more robust microbes are needed with advanced rates of conversion and yield, which will permit process simplification through consolidating process specialization. This arrangement tends to enhance the production by way of making the operation and required capital cost effective.

The expertise needed for the conversion of cellulose biomass into fuel ethanol has been established on the small scale. Thus, this can be readily deployed immediately in pilot and demonstration plants. The limiting factors however remain the process complexity and nature of the feedstock as well as required biocatalyst. The price of the sugar source is a very important process parameter in determining the overall economy of ethanol production, and it is of great interest to optimize the ethanol yield in order to ensure an efficient utilization of the carbon source (Nissen et al.

, 2000). The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae utilizes a variety of carbon sources for growth, but glucose and related hexoses are used preferentially. Inactivation of structural and regulatory genes by disruption or replacement has become a matter tool for physiological studies (Davis et al. , 1998). Optimization of Ethanol Production Saccharomyces cerevisiae is yeast that facilitates the utilization of a variety of carbon sources for growth; however glucose and related hexoses are utilized preferentially.

Inactivation of structural and regulatory genes by distraction or substitution has turn out to be a matter tool for physiological study (Davis et al. , 1998). As a result of matching mutants amid the wild type, imperative information can be acquired as regards the physiological function of the gene concerned (Ostergaard et al. , 2000). The GAL structure contains the genes which predetermine the proteins responsible for galactose utilization and is subjugated to dual control provoked by galactose and repressed by glucose (Oh and Hopper, 1990).

The yeast GAL genes have made available a widely used model for studies of eukaryotic gene regulation (Lohr et al. , 1995). The galactose utilization pathway also known as the leloir pathway, accountable for catabolism of galactose to glu-6P, entails several enzymatic responses (Johnston et al. , 1994). Galactose permease determined by the GAL2 gene is subsequently phosphorylated next to postion 1 beneath using up of ATP by galactokinase encoded by the GAL1 gene (Horak and Wolf, 1997).

Furthermore the GAL7 encodes a galactose- 1-phosphate uridylyltransferase that uses GAL1- 1P and UDP-glucose as substrates for the formation of GLU-1P and UDP-galactose. Later component is then reconverted into UDP-glucose by action of UDP-glucose 4-epimerase encoded by the GAL10 gene. Finally, the phosphate group of glu-1p is transferred to position 6 by phosphoglucomutase encoded by the GAL5 gene synonymous with the two isoenzymes encoded by PGM1 and PGM2 (Dejuan and Lagunas, 1986).

Control of carbohydrate metabolism in saccharomyces cerevisiae and other yeasts is of both basic and pragmatic consequence and has been the focus of several studies over the past decade (Ostergaard et al. , 2000; Alfenore et al. , 2002; Johnston et al. , 1994; Horak and Wolf, 1997 and Shi et al. , 1999). Saccharomyces cerevisiae displays the Crabtree effect: When it develops on glucose in aerobic surroundings, the sugar is for the most part fermented to ethanol rather than respired.

This end product is owed in part to the repression at high glucose genes concentrations that encode respiratory behaviors. Glucose repression is a compound authoritarian arrangement controlling many biochemical pathways (Klein et al. , 1998). Within this study, the role of GAL1 and consequently its gene manipulation (deletion) in ethanol production is put under focus as a vital means of determining more effective pathways by which optimization of ethanol production can be rapidly effected.

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