Are we there yet?


Glucose to Ethanol

The glucose produced by the cellulase can then be converted to ethanol by yeast (fermentation)

This is one of many biochemical pathways living organisms use to exploit the energy stored in chemical bonds for their own uses. Though inefficient compared with aerobic metabolism, fermentation comes into its own wherever there is glucose and an absence of oxygen.

The fermentation of glucose to ethanol

A number of different procedures have been developed to convert cellulose to ethanol. These involving different pretreatments of the cellulose containing waste, using the cellulase and yeast either either one after another or simultaneously. Many of these processes have been trialled on a pilot plant scale, but none are yet commercially viable.

Ethanol to Ethene

In the reverse of the reaction used to make most industrial ethanol, ethanol obtained by fermentation can be heated in the absence of oxygen to give ethene and water. This reaction is the focus of trail 9.2.3 which you will probably have a look at next...

Dehydration of ethanol to ethene

For dehydration of ethanol to be a commercial reaction, we need to hope for a massive increase in oil prices in the near future! This will also add impetus to the 'telecommuting students' initiative we mentioned earlier, providing the Key Centre for Polymer Colloids with funds to get the rest of the Chemistry syllabus on-line.

Why not show your support for higher oil prices to reflect the true environmental and social cost of this precious commodity? OPEC are the people to talk to if you want to do that...