UBE to Push Forward Yeast Technology to Produce Commercially-Based Ethanol

Ubon Bio Ethanol Public Company Limited (UBE) is introducing some ethanol yeast researched and developed by the PTT’s Innovation Institute to enhance utmost effectiveness of commercially-based ethanol production. Doing so will be beneficial to energy and other kinds of industries in Thailand, corresponding to the government’s policy on mixing ethanol with E20 oil. The company is also planning to expand more ethanol production in the future, emphasizing its complete leading energy industry to serve the needs of different consumers.

Mr. Wittawat Svasti-xuto, Chief Technology and Engineering Officer of PTT Plc. Co. Ltd., presided over the ceremony of signing an agreement on using yeast for commercially-based ethanol production between the PTT and the UBE. This event was also taken part in by the assistant to the managing director of PTT Innovation Institute Ms. Arunrat Wutthimongkholchai, the manager of PTT Department of Biotechnology and Materials Mr. Detphon Lertsuwanroj as well as the assistant to the managing director of UBE Strategic Plan Department Mr. Chun Phokhaisawan.

The said agreement aims to create cooperation in using biotechnology regarding selection and development of yeast’s gene done by PTT Innovation Institute which won the silver level for PTT Innovative Idea Awards from the research, “PTT Yeast Technology Platform”. The award was given in 2016 by the PTT Technology and Innovation Promotion Project on PTT Group Excellence Days at the PTT headquarters. The research concerns the study and development of technology used to seek and improve heat resistant yeast for ethanol production under high temperature. This work is a cooperation between researchers from BIOTECH, the National Institute of Science and Technology Development (NISTD)

Normally, under ethanol fermentation, yeast, especially Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is favored for the process. The ideal temperature for its growth is between 25 and 35 degree Celsius. In case of production of a large amount of ethanol, the temperature for fermentation process should be at around 30 degree Celsius. Besides, industrial ethanol production usually release heat which will be ventilated through cooling processes so that some micro organisms are not destroyed and keep growing. Such is energy-wasting and results in high production costs.

Finding heat resistant yeast that grows in high temperature fermentation is an option to reduce fermentation period and avoid cooling processes for heat ventilation. It can reduce production costs of 30-35% apart from avoiding contamination of other micro organisms. As Thailand is located in a tropical zone where the temperature during the day can be over 35 degree Celsius, a research about development of heat resistant yeast for ethanol production at high temperature is beneficial and necessary for sustainable national economic, social and environmental development.

In terms of the overall picture of UBE for the next five years, the company is strongly determined to improve and add more values to ethanol products in conformity with the governmental policy which requires E20 oil to be fundamental. Doing so will increase more use of ethanol and promote its selling among pharmaceutical cosmetic business. In addition, the company is developing products made of cassava powder, namely organic tapioca and sugar substitute products among others while its new businesses focuses on various organic products to serve the needs of health concerned people in the world.

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