Development and large scale performance of efficient xylose fermenting yeast strains
Conference poster, 2011
Fermentation at large industrial scale poses several challenges for the fermenting microorganism to handle. Thus, for an efficient production it is desirable to have robust and efficient strains which can cope with the specific conditions in the process. For bioethanol production by yeast from lignocellulosic material the substrate for growth constitutes one of the largest challenges due to its mixture of sugars and content of inhibitory compounds. Wild-type strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae can only convert hexose sugars but not the pentoses, xylose and arabinose, which may be present in lignocellulosic material. However, strains have been genetically modified to allow for xylose conversion, but their performance is needed to be improved in terms of rate and efficiency. During the pre-treatment of lignocellulosic material inhibitory compounds are formed; furans, phenolics and organic acids. In an industrial setting, a robust strain back ground (industrial yeast strains) is a prerequisite, in which earlier pentose fermenting traits should be incorporated and further adaptation to the inhibitory compounds need to follow. In the present project, we have used directed evolution to simultaneously improve the inhibitor tolerance and xylose conversion capability of recombinant yeast strains with an industrial background. Improved yeast strains resulting from several strategies were evaluated and one of the best strains with high ethanol production, good xylose utilization capacity, and low xylitol formation was selected for evaluation in larger scale. Fermentations on pre-treated corn cobs were performed with good results regarding ethanol production and xylose utilization both in process development unit scale (15 l) and demonstration scale (10 m3).