Scientists in Mexico have developed a method for turning food industry waste into bioethanol.

Working at the Center for Research and Assistance in Technology and Design of the State of Jalisco (CIATEJ), they have designed a prototype plant that can generate 500 liters of bioethanol a day.

The plant uses waste generated in the processing of cereals, which has a high content of starch, cellulose and hemicellulose.

Researchers developed a process of hydrolysis of carbohydrates and established precise fermentation conditions to produce bioethanol in the lab and in the pilot plant.

"With the information obtained from this research, the basic engineering of the ethanol production process was carried out, as well as advice for installing a pilot plant focused on the production of bioethanol from grain waste from the food industry," explained Lorena Amaya Delgado, a specialist from the Department of Industrial Biotechnology at CIATEJ.

The project used hydrolytic enzymes and yeasts with high tolerance to ethanol, which implied that fermentations were performed with high concentrations of sugars to generate more efficient processes, the researchers said.

Special equipment for those processes were also designed, to improve efficiency and performance.

The research was initiated at the request of a company in the food industry that generates significant amounts of waste corn. But the technology can also be used with other feedstocks.

"Although it was a project designed at the request of a company, the technology can be adapted to different waste from the food industries of the country, such as the bakery, dairy and fruit processing sectors, among others," Delgado said.