Crop Biotech Update

Penn State Researchers Develop New Method to Produce Biofuel

August 30, 2017

Researchers from Penn State University have developed a new method for converting potato waste into ethanol. The team used potato mash made from the peelings and potato residues from a Pennsylvania food-processor.

Biofilms are a way of immobilizing microbial cells on a solid support material. Penn State researchers evaluated if biofilm formation on plastic composite supports in the bioreactor can help improve ethanol production. They added Aspergillus niger and Saccharomyces cerevisiae to the bioreactor, which then catalyzed the conversion of the potato waste into bioethanol.

They found that allowing microbes to form a biofilm, the mold (A. niger) provides surface area for the yeasts' (S. cerevisiae) attachment, improving ethanol production. When in the biofilm, the microbial cells were abundant and more resistant to environmental stresses. Thus, the application of biofilm reactors contributed to the increase in production of the microbes.