Saturday, 3 December 2011

Ethanol from over ripen sapota to fuel automobiles in future

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: And now sapota will fuel your vehicle. Ripe sapota
is capable of yielding high-grade ethanol, which is projected as the
future automobile fuel.

Researchers at the department of agricultural microbiology and
bioenergy in Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University have
successfully obtained high quality ethanol from ripe and spoiled
sapota using special types of yeasts for fermentation. They maintained
a particular temperature and pH value to obtain ethanol from over
ripened and spoiled sapota.

Production of ethanol, which is increasingly used as an alternative or
additive to automobile fuel, from sapota will not only help in saving
foreign exchange to the country but will also help in utilization of
spoiled fruits that otherwise go into the garbage bin. As much as 40
per cent of 14 lakh tones of sapota produced in the country every year
are lost after the harvest. In monetary terms the loss is estimated to
be Rs 6750 crore. This can now be utilised in production of ethanol.

The researchers pointed out that sapota is highly perishable in nature
and requires a quick disposal. In glut period, a large quantity of the
fruit is wasted. “Sapota is good source of sugars, which range from 12
to 18 per cent. Because of its high sugar content the over ripened or
spoiled sapota can be used in a profitable manner. One of the
approaches is fermentative production of alcohol from over ripened
sapota fruits,” they said.

In view of fast depletion of fossil fuels and environmental pollution
due to gaseous emissions, alternative fuels such as bioethanol and
biodiesel are increasingly becoming popular. Biofuel such as alcohol
or ethanol can be obtained by microbial fermentation of plant biomass
to generate the green fuel.

Among all the sustainable alternative fuels, ethanol is an important
fuel source, which is renewable and reduces the green house effect,
global warming and climate change. The humble sapota is going to play
a key role in future thanks to the pioneering research by city
agricultural scientists.

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