Ethanol Production: Breakdown of Cellulose with the Addition of Vinegar in Yeast Fermentation

Cassidy Jeffrey, Gloria Gallo, Emily Johnson, David Gammage, Sarah Hileman


Yeast has been used for many years with bread making and while being fermented it helps produce ethanol. Cellulose is a readily available sugar but it is not easily broken down for use. By adding a mild acid (vinegar solution) we hoped to increase the breakdown of cellulose so that yeast could digest it for its own growth and production. We conducted three experiments as two experimental groups and one control group. In the control group the measurements were the recommended baseline growth media (French 2016) of deionized water, yeast, sugar, and sodium phosphate. As for the first experimental group the elements were the same as the control group except this time the vinegar was added directly to the solution of the elements then the deionized water was added afterwards. For the second experimental group the elements and steps were the same as the first except this time cellulose was added. The results for our groups were completely different, but when mixing vinegar and cellulose before adding this to the solution, this experimental group supported for our hypothesis. This experimental group (2) produced an amount of 0.025% ethanol production compared to experimental group 1 of 0.015% and the control group of 0.017%. The results were increase by a high percentage of 0.010% compared to the other two groups. This research can be continued in the future to help with yeast production and cellulose breakdown, perhaps as potential biofuel. Our findings do show that it is possible to use cellulose as a fuel for yeast when its breakdown is encouraged before adding it to a yeast solution.

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