Microbial bioethanol production is an important option in view of the finite global oil reserves. Bioethanol fermentation was carried out using immobilized microorganisms (Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Zymomonas mobilis, Pichia stipitis, etc.), which has many advantages compared with the use of free cells. Various support materials have been used for bioethanol fermentation, and alginate gels have been one of the most widely used matrices for cell entrapment. The aim of this study was increased bioethanol production by Saccharomyces cerevisiae immobilized on alginate gels. First, N-vinyl-2-pyrrolidone was grafted onto sodium alginate. Then, the properties of ethanol production were investigated using the matrix obtained. The performance of ethanol fermentation was affected by calcium chloride concentration, N-vinyl-2-pyrrolidone grafted onto the sodium alginate, sugar concentration and the percentage of immobilized cell beads. These effects were optimized to give maximum ethanol production. Ethanol production was accelerated when sodium alginate polymer was modified with N-vinyl-2-pyrrolidone. The maximum concentration, productivity and yield of ethanol were 69.68 g L−1, 8.71 g L−1 h−1 and .697 g g−1, respectively. The new polymeric matrix, when compared with sodium alginate, showed better ethanol production due to the hydrophilic property of N-vinyl-2-pyrrolidone. The results suggest that the proposed method for immobilization of Saccharomyces cerevisiae has potential in industrial applications of the ethanol production process.
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