Study of Wastewaters Contaminated with Heavy Metals in Bioethanol Production

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Bioethanol as a substitute for traditional sources of energy, especially oil transport, is currently one of the most researched alternative motor fuels. Normally, bioethanol is produced from agricultural crops such as sugar cane or corn. However, this is counter-productive, because agriculture is primarily serving to ensure enough food for the people. It is therefore necessary to look for new production of appropriate non-food crops or find an added value to this process. Utilisation of contaminated water from metal industry could be one of them. Based on the hypothesis of reduction of some toxic metals with higher oxidation number is opening the possibility of using this wastewater in alcohol fermentation of any kind of biomass. In this study, hexavalent chromium Cr(VI) was used as a model contaminant in the process of aerobic fermentation of corn to bioethanol. To determine the reduction potential of glucose to Cr(VI), and to quantitatively determinate the glucose content after saccharification, UV/VIS spectrophotometry was used. As a method of qualitative determination of fermentation product, gas chromatography with mass detection was used. Infrared spectrometry was used for qualitative analyses of produced ethanol. Based on the established results shown in this paper, we can conclude that the presence of hexavalent chromium in the fermentation process does not have a significant negative impact, while offering the opportunity of using the industrial wastewaters for the production of bioethanol fuel.

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