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Keywords:

  • fuel ethanol;
  • industrial fermentation;
  • ethanol yield;
  • yeast selection;
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae;
  • indigenous yeast

Abstract

Brazil is one of the largest ethanol biofuel producers and exporters in the world and its production has increased steadily during the last three decades. The increasing efficiency of Brazilian ethanol plants has been evident due to the many technological contributions. As far as yeast is concerned, few publications are available regarding the industrial fermentation processes in Brazil. The present paper reports on a yeast selection program performed during the last 12 years aimed at selecting Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains suitable for fermentation of sugar cane substrates (cane juice and molasses) with cell recycle, as it is conducted in Brazilian bioethanol plants. As a result, some evidence is presented showing the positive impact of selected yeast strains in increasing ethanol yield and reducing production costs, due to their higher fermentation performance (high ethanol yield, reduced glycerol and foam formation, maintenance of high viability during recycling and very high implantation capability into industrial fermenters). Results also suggest that the great yeast biodiversity found in distillery environments could be an important source of strains. This is because during yeast cell recycling, selective pressure (an adaptive evolution) is imposed on cells, leading to strains with higher tolerance to the stressful conditions of the industrial fermentation.