Cassava as ethanol feedstock


Ethanol can be made from mineral oil or from sugars or starches. Starches are cheapest. The starchy crop with highest energy content per acre is cassava, which grows in tropical countries.

Thailand already had a large cassava industry in the 1990s, for use as cattle feed and as a cheap admixture to wheat flour. Nigeria and Ghana are already establishing cassava-to-ethanol plants. Production of ethanol from cassava is currently economically feasible when crude oil prices are above US$120 per barrel.

New varieties of cassava are being developed, so the future situation remains uncertain. Currently, cassava can yield between 25-40 tonnes per hectare (with irrigation and fertilizer),[14] and from a tonne of cassava roots, circa 200 liters of ethanol can be produced (assuming cassava with 22% starch content). A liter of ethanol contains circa 21.46[15] MJ of energy. The overall energy efficiency of cassava-root to ethanol conversion is circa 32%.

The yeast used for processing cassava is Endomycopsis fibuligera, sometimes used together with bacterium Zymomonas mobilis.