In order to generate new fuel alternatives, researchers from the Natural Resources and Renewable Energy Unit of the Yucatan Scientific Research Center (Centro de INvestigación Científica CICY) developed a new technique to produce bioethanol (fuel) from the fermentation of the endemic “Ramón” tree seed (Brosimum alicastrum).
In an interview, professor Edgar Olguín Maciel, a doctorate student at the CICY‘s Renewable Energy Postgraduate Program, explained that this project seeks to optimize the production of bioethanol from a renewable source of biomass, the “Ramón” tree.
He said that this work was carried out under the tutelage of Dr. Alfonso Larqué Saavedra and Dr. Raúl Tapia Tussell, researchers from the Natural Resources and Renewable Energy units of the CICY.
Olguín Maciel explained that two alternatives for obtaining bioethanol have been developed in in the laboratory:
1.-) The first technique is conventional production, in which commercial enzymes are used and a native yeast, isolated from the ramón seed.
2.-) The second methodology is a consolidated bioprocess (CBP), where an organism is capable of producing enzymes and, at the same time, have the ability to ferment the sugars released in hydrolysis to produce bioethanol.
Olguín Maciel explained that in the conventional process commercial enzymes are used for the hydrolysis of the starch followed by the fermentation process with a native yeast strain, while in the consolidated bioprocess, the ramón flour is inoculated with a fungus capable of producing a Enzymatic battery that unfolds the starch in free sugars and, simultaneously, this organism ferments the sugars producing bioethanol and generating coproducts of added value during this process.
Researchers already submitted both processes to patent for the intelectual protection of their scientific work.
Finally, Edgar Olguin Maciel stressed that the “Ramón” tree offers a large area of opportunity, since its seeds have great nutritional value for humans and can be used for the production of fuel, its leaves are used for tea and its forage has high content protein for cattle.
In that sense, he stressed that the “Ramón” does not have problems to develop under conditions of stress, such as drought or high temperatures typical of Yucatan, and mentioned that after five or six years of life of the tree, the fruit can be harvested annually for a period of up to one hundred years.
Source: CICY Institutional Communication Department.