CB2E: Converting Cellulosic Biomass to Ethanol

CB2E: Converting Cellulosic Biomass to Ethanol

In this flexible lab sequence, students convert cellulosic biomass sources, such as sawdust, straw, or cardboard into sugars and then ethanol. As biomass samples are pretreated, enzymatically digested, and fermented, students use glucose meters and ethanol probes to measure the key products of this chemical conversion. In the process, students can test predictions about which biomass sources and treatment methods will be most effective for producing ethanol.

Grade Level High School through Undergraduate (9-16)
Subjects Chemistry, Environmental Science, Biology Agriculture, Engineering
Resource Type Investigation
Concepts/Skills fermentation, respiration, enzymes, biomolecules, organic chemistry, chemical reactions, biofuels, forms of energy, data analysis, scientific argumentation
Time Required Five to seven 50-minute class periods over 5-14 days (can be adapted to short times)
Prior Knowledge Energy and matter transformations, fermentation, enzyme action, relationship between monomers and polymers
Required Supplies ethanol probe, blood glucose meter, centrifuge tubes, water bath or incubator, biomass, cellulase enzyme, coffee or spice grinder, hot plate, scale, pipettes
**See activity package for amounts and supplier details
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Videos CB2E Lab Overview
CB2E Lab Tutorial
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CB2E Package (.zip, 13 MB)
Includes: Teacher Instructions and Answer Key, Student Activities and Worksheets, Presentation Slides and Notes