Lignocellulosic Ethanol: Technology and Economics
The accelerated global warming calls for fast development of solutions to curb excessive Greenhouse gas emission. Like most of other forms of renewable energy, lignocellulosic ethanol can help the human beings mitigate the climate deterioration and gain independence from fossil fuels. This chapter gives a survey of bioethanol production in the U.S. and world, describes classifications of three generations of bioethanol, provides an overview of all the stages of currently adopted process for the second-generation bioethanol production, briefs on new development on enzymes for hydrolysis and fermentation and new processes for ethanol generation, summarizes on recent life-cycle assessments of greenhouse gas emission and techno-economic evaluation of ethanol production. To sustain the infant cellulosic ethanol industry, substantial improvement in the following areas need to happen in a timely manner: (1) Effective and low-cost biomass pretreatment method, (2) efficient fermentation of all sugars released during the pretreatment and hydrolysis steps, (3) development of enzymes that tolerate various inhibitors including monosaccharides (mainly glucose) and ethanol, and (4) heat-tolerant fermentation microbes and enzymes for efficient simultaneous saccharification and fermentation. Genetic engineering is expected to play a key role in addressing most of the issues in these areas.