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Research Project: Genetic Improvement of Crop Plants for Use with Low Quality Irrigation Waters: Physiological, Biochemical and Molecular Approaches

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Title: Biofuel production from Jerusalem artichoke tuber inulins

Author
item BHAGIA, SAMARTHYA - University Of Tennessee
item AKINOSHO, HANNAH - Georgia Institute Of Technology
item Ferreira, Jorge
item RAGAUSKAS, ARTHUR - University Of Tennessee

Submitted to: Biofuel Research Journal
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/22/2017
Publication Date: 6/1/2017
Citation: Bhagia, S., Akinosho, H., Ferreira, J.F., Ragauskas, A.J. 2017. Biofuel production from Jerusalem artichoke tuber inulins. Biofuel Research Journal. 4(1):587-599. doi: 10.18331/BRJ2017.4.2.4.

Interpretive Summary: The demand for both food and fossil fuels will continue to increase in the near future due to the steady increase in world’s population, while renewable sources of energy often conflict with their use also as staple crops. Thus, it is important to explore the use of biofuel crops that neither play a double role as staple crops nor compete for agricultural lands to be used for food production. Jerusalem artichoke can grow in marginal lands, saline soils, and use degraded or recycled waters to produce tubers that are rich in inulin, a fructan polymer. These inulins can be easily broken down into fructose and glucose for conversion into ethanol by fermentation. This review focuses on both tuber and inulin yields by Jerusalem artichoke, the effects of cultivar and environment on tuber yield, and on approaches to fermentation for ethanol production. Consolidated bioprocessing with K. marxianus has been the most popular approach and holds the most promise for fermentation of inulins into ethanol. Apart from ethanol, fructose can be dehydrated into to 5-hydroxymethylfurfural followed by catalytic conversion into hydrocarbons that can be used for the production of biofuels and other chemicals currently produced from petroleum such as polyesters and polyurethanes. Findings from several studies indicate that tubers alone can produce ethanol at yields that rival corn and sugarcane ethanol. Jerusalem artichoke has a tremendous potential as a bioenergy feedstock that can generate income for farmers while using recycled waters with salinity levels unsuitable for food crops.

Technical Abstract: Jerusalem artichoke has high productivity of tubers that are rich in inulins, a fructan polymer. These inulins can be easily broken down into fructose and glucose for conversion into ethanol by fermentation. This review focuses on tuber and inulin yields, effect of cultivar and environment on tuber productivity, and approaches to fermentation for ethanol production. Consolidated bioprocessing with K. marxianus has been the most popular approach for fermentation into ethanol. Apart from ethanol, fructose can be dehydrated into to 5-hydroxymethylfurfural followed by catalytic conversion into hydrocarbons. Findings from several studies indicate that this plant from tubers alone can produce ethanol at yields that rival corn and sugarcane ethanol. Jerusalem artichoke has tremendous potential for use as a bioenergy feedstock.