Key drivers influencing the commercialization of ethanol-based biorefineries
The imposition of ethanol derived from biomass for blending in gasoline would make countries less dependent on current petroleum sources, which would save foreign exchange reserves, improve rural economies and provide job opportunities in a clean and safe environment. The key drivers for successful commercial ethanol production are cheap raw materials, economic pretreatment technologies, in-house cellulase production with high and efficient titers, high ethanol fermentation rates, downstream recovery of ethanol and maximum by-products utilization. Furthermore, recent developments in engineering of biomass for increased biomass, down-regulation of lignin synthesis, improved cellulase titers and re-engineering of cellulases, and process integration of the steps involved have increased the possibility of cheap bioethanol production that competes with the price of petroleum. Recently, many companies have come forward globally for bioethanol production on a large scale. It is very clear now that bioethanol will be available at the price of fossil fuels by 2010. This article intends to provide insight and perspectives on the important recent developments in bioethanol research, the commercialization status of bioethanol production, the step-wise cost incurred in the process involved, and the possible innovations that can be utilized to reduce the cost of ethanol production.
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