Fuel ethanol from cotton gin trash

The large amounts of waste residues from the cotton ginning industry are usually disposed of through incineration, land application or land filling. However, due to stricter regulations and increased disposal costs there is renewed interest in converting cotton gin trash into energy, particularly biofuels. Renewable bioenergy technologies appeal to most agricultural industries because they can potentially convert large quantities of wastes into valuable products. This project is developing advanced technologies for the production of second generation bioethanol from cotton gin trash (CGT).

Benefits for agriculture

Cotton gin processors stand to directly benefit from increases in production and reduced costs through better utilisation of wastes and value creation through the generation of new waste management business models. Use of CGT as a biofuel feedstock will facilitate the development of viable sustainable biorefineries without negative spill-over to livestock and food industries, thereby improving the economics and sustainability of such investments in the long term. Equally, the use of CGT will assist cotton gin operators to lower their carbon footprint.

Benefits for producers

Additional revenues from CGT will enhance farmer’s profitability and competitiveness and provide primary producers with incentives to increase cotton cultivation. Accordingly, regional investment and employment opportunities will increase.

More information about this project

Cotton gin trash is an abundant resource and centrally stockpiled with a high cellulose content making it an ideal low-cost biomass feedstock for regional biorefineries. CGT is rich in carbohydrates which could, following treatment, be used as a source of sugar for ethanol fermentation. We are developing process options to breakdown complex CGT carbohydrates into simple sugars and subsequently fuel ethanol via fermentation.

The aim is to produce biofuels from cotton gin waste via a two-stage process:

  1. Conversion of CGT into fermentable sugars via biochemical pathway
  2. Yeast fermentation of recovered sugars into bioethanol

Outcomes for industry

  • Development of technology for sugar production from cotton gin trash
  • Development of bioprocessing technology for production of fuel ethanol
  • Pilot scale demonstration of bioethanol production from CGT
  • Techno-economic assessment and optimisation of CGT to biofuel value chain
  • Development of an innovative ‘waste-to-energy’ income stream while mitigating disposal costs and greenhouse gas emissions

Unleaded E10 fuel