Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title



With the looming prospect of fossil fuels increasing in price, recent attention has turned to the production of renewable, sustainable replacements for fossil fuels. One such fuel, ethanol, has also been commercially adopted as gasoline additive, and in some vehicles can replace gasoline entirely. Currently the majority of ethanol in North America is produced by the fermentation of corn (Zea mays). This is problematic because corn production, transportation, and fermentation relies heavily on fertilizer, diesel fuel and electricity, all of which are derived from fossil fuels. This research is focused on using kudzu (Pueraria montana) as an alternative feedstock for ethanol production. Kudzu grows quickly without any human inputs, contains up to 50% starch, and is an invasive plant in the southeastern United States. Previous research in our laboratory focused on converting the starch found in kudzu to ethanol, using 1H NMR spectroscopy to analyze the final ethanol concentration. The highest concentration of ethanol we were able to obtain in previous research was 3.5% v/v. In this research, different treatments of kudzu root were studied in order to optimize ethanol production. Kudzu was treated by pressure cooking prior to fermentation with a brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). The kudzu root was also pretreated with various amylase enzymes to break the starches into fermentable sugars, and the temperature profile of the enzyme treatments was optimized. It is expected that by optimizing both fermentation and root pretreatment techniques, the ethanol produced will be at a high enough concentration to be commercially viable as a bioethanol feedstock.


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