Ethanol production from cereal food waste: an enriched carbohydrate source



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Our planet is facing several environmental problems including air and water pollution, and global climate change. With all these problems to deal with, the natural resources of the Earth are starting to become scarce. Some solutions and initiatives are beginning to be adopted to address the irreversible damage that it is being done to the planet. However, the problem of food waste is one that affects the population of the world in many ways including environmental damage and not much has been done to mitigate its impact. The biodegradation of food generates gases such as methane and carbon dioxide that pollute air and water; especially if there is not a control to dispose of food waste. Renewable fuels have become a potential solution to substitute for fossil fuel and lessen the damage being done to the planet, and ethanol is one of these promising fuels. Ethanol is produced biochemically through the fermentation of simple sugars; nowadays, this method constitutes the primary source to make the alcohol. Ethanol is produced mainly from the hydrolysis and fermentation of starch and the sugars contained in corn grain and sugar cane. Consequently, the use of these foods has triggered socio-economic conflicts affecting modern society such as the rise in the price of food and the dilemma of fuel vs. food. However, it has also led to new research on other sources of raw materials to produce ethanol such as food waste and cellulose, among others. This review aims to highlight the advantages of turning food waste into useful fuels while alleviating environmental concerns. First, ethanol could be produced from food waste, especially cereals since they are rich in carbohydrates and are one of the most wasted foods. Second, pollution effects could be reduced by redirecting food waste from landfills into ethanol production. Third, the socioeconomic impact caused by using edible food products to produce ethanol could be allayed.



Food waste, Ethanol, Renewable fuel

Graduation Month



Master of Science


Department of Chemical Engineering

Major Professor

Larry E. Erickson; Bin Liu