Commercial cellulosic ethanol: The role of plant-expressed enzymes
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- Sainz, M.B. In Vitro Cell.Dev.Biol.-Plant (2009) 45: 314. doi:10.1007/s11627-009-9210-1
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The use and production of biofuels has risen dramatically in recent yr. Bioethanol comprises 85% of total global biofuels production, with benefits including reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and promotion of energy independence and rural economic development. Ethanol is primarily made from corn grain in the USA and sugarcane juice in Brazil. However, ethanol production using current technologies will ultimately be limited by land availability, government policy, and alternative uses for these agricultural products. Biomass feedstocks are an enormous and renewable source of fermentable sugars that could potentially provide a significant proportion of transport fuels globally. A major technical challenge in making cellulosic ethanol economically viable is the need to lower the costs of the enzymes needed to convert biomass to fermentable sugars. The expression of cellulases and hemicellulases in crop plants and their integration with existing ethanol production systems are key technologies under development that will significantly improve the process economics of cellulosic ethanol production.