Fermentation Challenge: Making Ethanol from Cellulose
This high school-level lab demonstration and inquiry activity introduces students to the process of fermenting cellulosic biomass into ethanol, along with the challenges researchers face in this area. The demonstration uses a Vernier probe or balloons to measure fermentation rates of different feedstocks to begin the discussion of why some carbohydrates are easily fermented by yeast while others are not. Students can design and carry out their own labs to try to improve fermentation rates of various feedstocks. Students are encouraged to think about potential feedstocks and the biochemical processes necessary to convert each type of carbohydrate into fuel.
Extend the learning by combing this activity with the Modern Scientist-Engineer in the World of Fermentation research story, Boosting Yeast's Appetite for Sugars data dive, Fermentation in a Bag activity, and CB2E: Converting Cellulosic Biomass to Ethanol lab.