Assessing the economic feasibility of commercializing cellulosic ethanol fuel production in Nigeria

Idongesit Effiong Ekpo, Regina Ogali and Ozioma Achugasim

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This study aims to assess the economic feasibility of commercializing cellulosic ethanol fuel in Nigeria, it proceeds beyond evaluating theoretical yield from the process of hydrolysis to investigation of yields based on total amounts of biomass or substrate used, cellulosic materials pretreated as well as enzymes used in the process of production. The cellulosic material in this study was Pernnisetum purpureum S, with three pretreatment methods including; dilute acid, sulphite pretreatment to overcome the recalcitrance effects of lignocellulose (SPORL) and alkaline wet oxidation methods used, followed by enzymatic hydrolysis then fermentation with zymase. It was observed that the smallest biomass particle size of 200 µm gave the highest ethanol yield and the actual ethanol yield obtained were 3.61, 6.90 and 7.71 % for dilute acid, alkaline wet oxidation and SPORL pretreatment methods respectively; this may not be economically feasible compared to the theoretical yield of 0.51 g ethanol/g glucose that is envisioned.