Ethanol production from brown seaweed using non-conventional yeasts

Oluwatosin Obata, Joseph Akunna, Heike Bockhorn, Graeme Walker

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    The use of macroalgae (seaweed) as a potential source of biofuels has attracted considerable worldwide interest. Since brown algae, especially the giant kelp, grow very rapidly and contain considerable amounts of polysaccharides, coupled with low lignin content, they represent attractive candidates for bioconversion to ethanol through yeast fermentation processes. In the current study, powdered dried seaweeds (Ascophylum nodosum and Laminaria digitata) were pre-treated with dilute sulphuric acid and hydrolysed with commercially available enzymes to liberate fermentable sugars. Higher sugar concentrations were obtained from L. digitata compared with A. nodosum with glucose and rhamnose being the predominant sugars, respectively, liberated from these seaweeds. Fermentation of the resultant seaweed sugars was performed using two non-conventional yeast strains: Scheffersomyces (Pichia) stipitis and Kluyveromyces marxianus based on their abilities to utilise a wide range of sugars. Although the yields of ethanol were quite low (at around 6 g/L), macroalgal ethanol production was slightly higher using K. marxianus compared with S. stipitis. The results obtained demonstrate the feasibility of obtaining ethanol from brown algae using relatively straightforward bioprocess technology, together with non-conventional yeasts. Conversion efficiency of these non-conventional yeasts could be maximised by operating the fermentation process based on the physiological requirements of the yeasts.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)134-145
    Number of pages12
    Issue number1
    Early online date29 Jun 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2016


    • Fermentation
    • Non-conventional yeasts
    • Ascophylum nodosum
    • Laminaria digitata


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