Background: A single-step ethanol production is the combination of raw cassava starch hydrolysis and fermentation. For the development of raw starch consolidated bioprocessing technologies, this research was to investigate the optimum conditions and technical procedures for the production of ethanol from raw cassava starch in a single step. It successfully resulted in high yields and productivities of all the experiments from the laboratory, the pilot, through the industrial scales. Yields of ethanol concentration are comparable with those in the commercial industries that use molasses and hydrolyzed starch as the raw materials.
Results: Before single-step ethanol production, studies of raw cassava starch hydrolysis by a granular starch hydrolyzing enzyme, StargenTM002, were carefully conducted. It successfully converted 80.19% (w/v) of raw cassava starch to glucose at a concentration of 176.41 g/L with a productivity at 2.45 g/L/h when it was pretreated at 60 °C for 1 h with 0.10% (v/w dry starch basis) of Distillase ASP before hydrolysis. The single-step ethanol production at 34 °C in a 5-L fermenter showed that Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Fali, active dry yeast) produced the maximum ethanol concentration, pmax at 81.86 g/L (10.37% v/v) with a yield coefficient, Yp/s of 0.43 g/g, a productivity or production rate, rp at 1.14 g/L/h and an efficiency, Ef of 75.29%. Scale-up experiments of the single-step ethanol production using this method, from the 5-L fermenter to the 200-L fermenter and further to the 3,000-L industrial fermenter were successfully achieved with essentially good results. The values of pmax, Yp/s, rp, and Ef of the 200-L scale were at 80.85 g/L (10.25% v/v), 0.42 g/g, 1.12 g/L/h and 74.40%, respectively and those of the 3,000-L scale were at 70.74 g/L (8.97% v/v), 0.38 g/g, 0.98 g/L/h and 67.56%, respectively. Because of using raw starch, major by-products, i.e., glycerol, lactic acid, and acetic acid of all three scales were very low, in ranges of 0.940−1.140, 0.046−0.052, 0.000−0.059 (% w/v), respectively, where are less than those values in the industries.
Conclusion: The single-step ethanol production using the combination of raw cassava starch hydrolysis and fermentation of three fermentation scales in this study is practicable and feasible for the scale-up of industrial production of ethanol from raw starch.