We are quickly moving towards a reality, in some countries more quickly than in others, in which an unprecedented strain on fuel supplies is occurring. Amidst the all-out global effort to find fast and sustainable solutions, research into alternative methods of production are emerging at an equally fast pac
A special type of marine yeast
The team studied the use of a special strain of marine yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae AZ65 and yeast extract peptone dextrose (YPD), which when fermented helps to create the biofuel. To achieve their results, samples were taken directly from the Lincolnshire coast in the North Sea and later combined with marine yeast samples which had been gathered from the same country as well as Egypt and the US.
Another benefit cited by the team is the yeast's higher level of osmotic tolerance, a factor which makes it a more sustainable option for large-scale production. Traditional biorefinery methods rely on agricultural feedstock and freshwater, putting even more strain on already limited freshwater resources.
The team has estimated that between 1,388 to 9,812 litres of freshwater are consumed for every litre of bioethanol produced. Although no specific references were made to the amount of time the entire process took, the team reported a 93.50g/L amount of ethanol (representing an 83.33% yield) production from a 15-Lbioreactor--numbers increased with the introduction of seawter-YPD media.
r. Abdelrahman Zaky, a microbiologist in the university's School of Biosciences, who also led the study, explained the comparatively advantages of their method: “Current fermentation technologies mainly use edible crops and freshwater for the production of bioethanol. With an ever growing population and demand for biofuels and other bio-based produces, there are concerns over the use of the limited freshwater and food crops resources for non-nutritional activities. Also, freshwater has a high price tag in countries where it is available, pushing up the price of production.”
The beauty of biorefinery techniques like these is that they offer individual countries the option of either gradually investing in the technology and using it alongside fossil fuels, or pursuing the use of the methods in a much more aggressive manner. Compelling research like this is vital, as it creates a greater possibility for countries to buy into alternatives, and looking at the bigger picture, embrace sustainability as a more realistic possibility for the future.
Details about the study from a paper, titled "The establishment of a marine focused biorefinery for bioethanol production using seawater and a novel marine yeast strain", were published last week in the Scientific Reportsjournal.