A review of conversion processes for bioethanol production with a focus on syngas fermentation

Document Type : Review Paper


Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, 214 Ag Hall, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA.


Bioethanol production from corn is a well-established technology. However, emphasis on exploring non-food based feedstocks is intensified due to dispute over utilization of food based feedstocks to generate bioethanol. Chemical and biological conversion technologies for non-food based biomass feedstocks to biofuels have been developed. First generation bioethanol was produced from sugar based feedstocks such as corn and sugar cane. Availability of alternative feedstocks such as lignocellulosic and algal biomass and technology advancement led to the development of complex biological conversion processes, such as separate hydrolysis and fermentation (SHF), simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF), simultaneous saccharification and co-fermentation (SSCF), consolidated bioprocessing (CBP), and syngas fermentation. SHF, SSF, SSCF, and CBP are direct fermentation processes in which biomass feedstocks are pretreated, hydrolyzed and then fermented into ethanol. Conversely, ethanol from syngas fermentation is an indirect fermentation that utilizes gaseous substrates (mixture of CO, CO2 and H2) made from industrial flue gases or gasification of biomass, coal or municipal solid waste. This review article provides an overview of the various biological processes for ethanol production from sugar, lignocellulosic, and algal biomass. This paper also provides a detailed insight on process development, bioreactor design, and advances and future directions in syngas fermentation.

Graphical Abstract

A review of conversion processes for bioethanol production with a focus on syngas fermentation


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