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Renewable energy science fair project:
Ethanol production by fermenting waste materials




Science Fair Project Information
Title: Ethanol production by fermenting waste materials
Subject: Renewable Energy
Grade level: High School - Grades 10-12
Academic Level: Ordinary
Project Type: Experimental
Cost: Low
Awards: 1st place, Canada Wide Virtual Science Fair (2007)
Affiliation: Canada Wide Virtual Science Fair (VSF)
Year: 2007
Description: The purpose of this project is to demonstrate that ethanol can be produced by fermenting waste materials such as orange peels, saw dust and newspapers.
Link: http://www.odec.ca/projects/2007/cheu7j2/
Short Background

Cellulosic ethanol is a biofuel produced from wood, grasses, or the non-edible parts of plants.

It is a type of biofuel produced from lignocellulose, a structural material that comprises much of the mass of plants. Lignocellulose is composed mainly of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. Corn stover, switchgrass, miscanthus, woodchips and the byproducts of lawn and tree maintenance are some of the more popular cellulosic materials for ethanol production. Production of ethanol from lignocellulose has the advantage of abundant and diverse raw material compared to sources like corn and cane sugars, but requires a greater amount of processing to make the sugar monomers available to the microorganisms that are typically used to produce ethanol by fermentation.

Switchgrass and Miscanthus are the major biomass materials being studied today, due to their high productivity per acre. Cellulose, however, is contained in nearly every natural, free-growing plant, tree, and bush, in meadows, forests, and fields all over the world without agricultural effort or cost needed to make it grow.

According to U.S. Department of Energy studies conducted by the Argonne Laboratories of the University of Chicago, one of the benefits of cellulosic ethanol is that it reduces greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 85% over reformulated gasoline. By contrast, starch ethanol (e.g., from corn), which most frequently uses natural gas to provide energy for the process, may not reduce GHG emissions at all depending on how the starch-based feedstock is produced. A study by Nobel Prize winner Paul Crutzen found ethanol produced from corn, and sugarcane had a "net climate warming" effect when compared to oil.

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

For More Information: Cellulosic Ethanol

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