Daniela Aguilar was interviewed by national news – 2018.
Could the tequila industry contribute something to Mexico’s renewable energies? The answer is yes. Researchers from the Autonomous University of Coahuila (UAdeC) developed the project “Operational strategies and technical-economic study in the production of bioethanol using agave bagasse”, a study that was part of the activities of the Bioalcohols Cluster of the Mexican Center for Innovation in Bioenergy (CEMIE-Bio).
The project was born out of the need to take advantage of the waste generated by the tequila industry in Mexico. In the experiment, agave bagasse extracted directly from tequila manufacturers in the region of the same name, in the state of Jalisco, was used, where about 85% of tequilana agave is produced.
What is special about agave bagasse in terms of energy? “Agave bagasse is composed of lignocellulosic materials, mainly cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. These biopolymers are present in most plants and, as they are depolymerized in simple sugars, they can be used to be fermented and obtain bioethanol ”, explained in an interview the science teacher Daniela Lidieth Aguilar Pérez, collaborator of the project and of the Bioalcohols Cluster.
In addition to bioethanol, the team obtained a by-product from agave bagasse called xylooligosaccharides, elements that can be used as prebiotics in the food industry.
To produce bioethanol, it is first necessary to separate cellulose, lignin and hemicellulose through a pretreatment step. In this case, the team has specialized in hydrothermal treatments. This is possible by placing the raw material in a high pressure reactor (in this case, bagasse of the Agave tequilana Weber var. Azul type), which is mixed with water and brought to high temperatures to be able to separate the compounds, mainly the hemicellulose.
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