EGEE 439
Alternative Fuels from Biomass Sources

Lesson 6: General Ethanol Production


This lesson will cover how ethanol is produced, from both starch and cellulose. In order to understand ethanol production, we will first learn about enzymes and their role in breaking down cellulose and starch into glucose so that fermentation can take place. The enzymes are the first stage, but there are several stages to producing ethanol. Most of you will not have any biochemistry background, so that’s where we’ll start. We will also cover a little about enzymes for hemicellulose and lignin degradation.

Before covering the technical aspects of the lesson, we will begin Lesson 6 with expectations on your final project.

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • explain requirements for final report;
  • recall the biochemistry of starch and lignocellulosic biomass, as well as go into greater depth on each of these components;
  • discuss basic biochemistry of enzymes;
  • evaluate how the enzymes work and on certain biomass parts particular enzymes are used and products that are made.

Lesson 6 Road Map

This lesson will take us one week to complete. Please refer to the Course Syllabus for specific time frames and due dates. Specific directions for the assignment below can be found within this lesson.

Steps for Completing Lesson 6
Step Activity Access/Directions
1 Read Lynd, L. R., P. J. Weimer, W. H. Van Zyl, and I. S. Pretorius. "Microbial Cellulose Utilization: Fundamentals and Biotechnology." Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews 66.3 (2002): 511-15. 6.4
2 Read Rosenberg, Tina. "In Africa’s Vanishing Forests, the Benefits of Bamboo." New York Times 13 Mar. 2012. 6.4
3 Homework #6 6.4
4 Discussion #6 6.4


If you have any questions, please send them to All Course Instructors through ANGEL e-mail. I will check daily to respond. If your question is one that is relevant to the entire class, I may respond to the entire class rather than individually.