Cellulose, a complex sugar, can be broken down through saccharification by some microorganisms in the soil to yield glucose. After further action by other microorganisms, it may be converted to ethyl alcohol (grain alcohol) for use as a fuel. The discussion that follows deals with some work done at South Dakota State University (SDSU) to ascertain the feasibility of this process in a farm or community-scale fuel alcohol production facility. Presently, the limiting factor in obtaining fuel alcohol from cellulose wastes is the cost of producing the complex of the three enzymes needed to carry out the process of saccharification. To date, improvements in enzyme production have been made only in the research laboratory. An owner-operator system that would convert cellulose to glucose has yet to be economically developed. The fuel alcohol production facility at SDSU is similar in size to what might be used by an individual owner-operator. This study sought to determine how effective it would be to scale up from the laboratory production level to a rudimentary pilot plant.
South Dakota State University
Cass, Carla M. and Gauger, W. Kennedy, "Fuel Alcohol Production : Conversion of Cellulose to Glucose" (1985). Agricultural Experiment Station Technical Bulletins (1939-2011). 81.