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BioEthanol and BioButanol Production from Sugarcorn Extract.

Gomez-Flores, R., Thiruvengadathan, T.N., Nicol, R., Gilroyed, B., Morrison, M., Reid, L.M., Margaritis, A. 2017. BioEthanol and BioButanol Production from Sugarcorn Extract. 70th Northeast Corn Improvement Conference, Ottawa, ON, Feb 21-22, 2017. Oral presentation.


‘Sugarcorn’ refers to corn hybrids with high stalk sugars concentration that have been developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and were tailored to suit Canadian climatic conditions and short growth seasons. Sugarcorn hybrids used in this study were harvested 5-10 days after silking at University of Guelph, Ridgetown campus, Ridgetown, ON. The aim of this study was to investigate the composition of the sugarcorn juice and assess its potential for production of the liquid biofuels bioethanol and biobutanol. The pH, elemental composition, and concentration of sugars in the juice were determined. The pH of sugarcorn juice ranged between 4.89-5.08 for the samples analyzed. Concentration of carbohydrates in the juice varied from 125 to 180 g/L were the readily fermentable sugars, namely, sucrose, glucose and fructose accounted for about 80%. Bioethanol fermentation was carried out using Saccharomyces cerevisiae, grown in sugarcorn juice medium supplemented with yeast extract achieving 45.62 g/L ethanol in 72 hours of fermentation. Biobutanol was produced using Clostridium beijerinckii, a solventogenic bacteria, cultivated anaerobically in diluted sugarcorn juice-P2 medium. A butanol concentration of 8.3 g/L was achieved in 257 h. Typical features and juice composition of sugarcorn were compared with those of sugarcane, energy cane and sweet sorghum. Finally, a process flow was proposed for production and recovery of bioethanol and biobutanol from sugarcorn feedstock. Sugarcorn plants can achieve high concentration of stalk sugars in the weeks following silking, thereby saving agricultural resources by aiding an early harvest, without the need to wait for corn maturity. Farmers are familiar with corn cultivation and the associated agricultural machinery, which further enhances its potential as a dedicated Canadian energy crop.

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