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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

MICROBIAL FERMENTATION OF KUDZU (PUERARIA MONTANA): FROM INVASIVE PEST TO BIOFUEL FEEDSTOCK**

Abstract

The challenge of replacing petroleum-based fuels with something less environmentally damaging has been worked on extensively in recent decades. One of the first and most cost-effective steps toward a greener carbon footprint involves replacing light petroleum distillates used in gasoline with a bio-based fuel, such as ethanol. Production of ethanol from sustainable sources is directly dependent on their carbohydrate content. Cultivated crops such as maize, beets and sugarcane are currently used, but these rely heavily on unsustainable land use practices to produce the required fermentable compounds. Kudzu (Pueraria montana) is a fast-growing invasive in the United States, that often contains similar amounts of carbohydrates as today’s biofuel crops. Our research is focused on directly and qualitatively producing ethanol from kudzu by microbial fermentation. We used leaves and roots as our carbohydrate source, both of which contain significant amounts of carbohydrates. We tested several common strains of Saccharomyces cervisiae yeast, in combination with alpha-amylase and amyloglucosidase enzymes to break the starches into fermentable sugars. We also tested various pre-fermentation treatments of the plant material. Ethanol content was measured by 1H NMR spectroscopy. If possible, the production of ethanol from kudzu will not only make a more sustainable fuel but help to eliminate an invasive species in the process.

Acknowledgements

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