Research Project Information

Research Project Summary Information

Biocatalytc Microreactors for the Efficient Fermentation of D-xlose in Production of Fuel Ethanol from Cellulosie Biomass(ST10870-1)

Clarkson University


Biomass fermentation to ethanol is inefficient because cellulose and hemicellulose break down into different kinds of sugars, each requiring different fermentation mechanisms. Furthermore, the ethanol and other compounds in the broth inhibit the microorganisms.

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Project Description

The goal of the project was to create a novel fixed bed microreactor that immobilizes yeast and an enzyme complex inside a polymeric shell that provides protection against harsh hydrolysate conditions, while allowing free diffusion of reactants and products. By controlling pore size, unwanted inhibitors are blocked from entering the shell. By immobilizing the yeast and enzyme, the two are kept in high concentration and proximity to each other, thereby increasing fermentation efficiency.


The shell concept could be used to protect any microorganism producing any bio product, not just the ones studied for cellulosic ethanol production. The shells may be packed into a column for use in continuous-flow processes.

Project Results

Specific research objectives included: 1) optimizing the immobilization procedure to obtain uniform, stable and reproducible capsules 2) determining optimum operational conditions, including assuring the following: a. the process is kinetically limited and not diffusion-limited b. optimizing the partitioning of substrate and product in and out of the shell c. evaluating the effect of inhibitors on both free and immobilized yeasts and enzymes 3) testing in conditions that mimic real-world hydrolyzation 4) developing a bench-scale prototype 5) estimating fabrication costs at scale-up.


Clarkson University
Attn: Comptroller's Office Po Box 5546
Potsdam, NY 13699

Principle Investigator

Emanuela Andreescu

Universities Involved

Clarkson University


Project Type:

Indigenous/Renewable Energy Resources

Technologies Types:

NYSERDA Contact Information

Judy Jarnefeld


R&D - Environment & Energy Res

Contract Details

Start Date: 1/11/2010
Project Status: Active
Contract Number: ST10870-1

Last Updated: 10/28/2011