The mitigation of climate change, energy versus food security, and equity in rural areas are some of the main global goals facing the world today. One of the real options to achieving these goals is the development of cleaner and renewable energy sources, such as biofuels. Fuel ethanol from sugarcane and corn is world­wide the most important biofuel, followed by biodiesel from rapeseed. However, speculations about the possible impacts of fuel ethanol production create confu­sion about its convenience.

This book stresses the need to analyze and design accurately fuel ethanol pro­duction systems based on a process engineering approach as the source of techni­cal information for assessing the real impacts of this biofuel on energy, food, and environmental balances. The processes for producing fuel ethanol from different feedstocks are not all the same in terms of technologies, impacts, and benefits. There is diversity among scientists, engineers, governments, or decision mak­ers who try to analyze fuel ethanol projects. The book, through the 13 chapters, describes a logic and structured strategy for further analysis and development of fuel ethanol production from different feedstocks including energy crops and lignocellulosic biomasses.

The authors aim to offer a comprehensive review as well as results from more than 15 years in process engineering and ethanol research developed by the Chemical and Biotechnological Processes Design Group at the National University of Colombia, Manizales campus. Additionally, the process intensifica­tion reached by integration of reaction and separation processes in fuel ethanol production is analyzed in detail.

Chapter 1 discusses bioenergy focusing on liquid biofuels and describes the development of biofuels production in the world. Chapter 2 discusses the role of process synthesis and design as a key strategy for rapid and high-tech analysis and design of complex biotechnological processes. Chapters 3 and 4 describe the characteristics and technological implications of using different sugary and starchy crops as well as lignocellulosic feedstocks. Chapter 5 emphasizes the hydrolysis technologies for the saccharification of carbohydrate polymers as cel­lulose and starch. Chapter 6 analyzes the microorganisms used in ethanol produc­tion. Chapters 7 and 8 describe in detail the fuel ethanol production technologies for different feedstocks. Chapter 9 analyzes the new technological innovations based on process integration as a way for reducing energy consumption. Chapter 10 addresses the environmental issues regarding bioethanol production. Here, environmental impacts are discussed in terms of waste reduction algorithm and the life cycle assessment. Then, these impacts are calculated as a result of over­all energy and material balances obtained from a process engineering approach. Chapter 11 describes the technological configurations for fuel ethanol produc­tion in the industry. Chapter 12 discusses the possible factors that could affect food security when fuel ethanol production and consumption are encouraged in different countries. Chapter 13 summarizes the main topics discussed in the book in terms of perspectives and challenges in research and development for fuel etha­nol production. Most of these chapters are supported by case studies that include calculations and discussion of results.

The authors believe that accurate analysis and precise design as well as pro­active government policies in fuel ethanol production will contribute to fair and sustainable development of energy crops in the world promoting new alternatives for poor rural areas. Finally, this book is an open and dynamic work waiting for improvements and suggestions from the readers.

C. A. Cardona

O. J. Sanchez L. F. Gutierrez

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