Brief introduction to my research in Tokodai

long time no post >.<
warui warui..

here in Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) I have to do a research to complete my task as exchange student

since I am a Chemical Engineering student.. I (suppose to be) have to do ChE related jikken (experiment)
but.. here, ChE's "trending topic" is little bit different with Indonesian's Che's..
actually, in ITB (Bandung Institute of Technology), I join General Chemical Engineering.. a sub-department in ITB's ChE that study about general things in ChE such as making reactor.. evaporator.. distilator.. or even catalyst..
and my research topic there is about catalyst (I hope it's still the same)
but here.. I do something really different from what I do in ITB.. bio-process -_-

bio-process is.. err.. branch(?) of ChE that utilize microorganisms (esp their enzyme) to do such kinds of chemical reaction
it's also a sub-department of ITB's ChE..
one more time.. it's about MICROORGANISMS.. and their ENZYMES…

*short sigh.. a moment of silence..*

so that I don't know anything about my research here..
I don't have any experience about saying hello to fungi or babysitting yeast..
my best friend solid catalyst's nowhere to found here..
but it's okay.. even maybe.. it's interesting.. to find a lot of new things here

so here's my research topic in Tokyo Tech :
Converting Waste Paper into Bio-ethanol
waste.. paper..
into.. (bio) ethanol..
paper.. ethanol..
how can it be related?
and maybe you think about bio-ethanol = energy ? yup.. you're right

ethanol is a kind of alcohol (liquor’s alcohol is ethanol though) that contains 2 carbon atoms.. and of course with hydroxy (-OH) group..
bio here is just “nick name” to distinguish this ethanol that produced from bio (living things) from other petroleum(oil)-based ethanol
usually, ethanol is produced by means of fermentation.. same process that we use to make wine.. the main ingredient is sugar.. simple one (e.g. glucose, xylose, fructose) not the polymer one (e.g. amylum.. or we can say starch.., cellulose.. kind of sugar polymer that we can find in tree or even paper)
the main processor is enzyme that produced by microorganisms.. I will explain these later..
so we back to bio-ethanol..
large usage of bio-ethanol is for gasoline substitute..
therefore, bio-ethanol is (hopefully) can resolve problem of lack energy.. that is the main purpose of this research..
Saccharification and Fermentation
Saccharification, in simple, is process that transform polymeric carbohydrate to less chained carbohydrate, or even become monomer.. Simply, we can find this process in our mouth when chewing rice (with helping hand of saliva).. we (without even hesitate) hydrolyze amylum (polymer alpha-chained glucose, contained in rice) become glucose.. that’s why we will taste little bit sweet when we chew rice for a little bit long time.. That’s the simple sample one.. The real term of saccharification that I used here refers to hydrolysis of cellulose (also polymer of glucose, but beta-chained..therefore much much harder to hydrolyze) by means of cellulase.. This saccharification process is needed in this research for converting cellulose from paper to glucose that can be fermented to become bio-ethanol
Fermentation, in simple, is process that transform simple carbohydrate (such as glucose) to become ethanol.. As I said before, this process can be found in wine making..

Why paper?
Commonly, bio-ethanol is produced from corn or sugar cane
This can be bad.. because those two are also common human’s food
So I use this paper.. waste paper especially.. that usually thrown away.. or recycled..
So here it is.. re-utilize.. become something more useful : gasoline substitute

Basic Principle
My research, simply, consist of two steps :
1. Saccharification to transform cellulose inside paper using cellulase that produced by Trichoderma reesei to become glucose
2. Fermentation for converting glucose to become ethanol by means of enzymatic activity of Kluyveromyces lactis

Problems Facing Ahead
Some parameters that I must replenish are :
1. Composition of medium to inoculate, pre-culture, culture, and do SSF.. medium is mix of many substances for microorganisms to live in.. it consist at least carbon source and nitrogen source.. and water.. the C-source of my research is that paper waste.. another C-source may be needed.. that’s the first problem that I have to find the answer
2. Condition of paper.. dry? wet? crushed? cut?
3. Condition of run : temperature? shaking speed? pH?

Future (hopefully)
If this research gets its success.. it can be a stepping stone to resolve two problems in my beloved country, Indonesia, simultaneously : paper waste problem and gasoline lacking problem
And.. I hope.. it can also have impact to labor in Indonesia.. especially who we call “pemulung” or “garbage hunter” (English name sounds so great -_-)
Gathering paper that could satisfy economic scale of production needs many people.. so it may be source of prosperity for some garbage-hunter.. With an investment from smart entrepreneur, I hope this stepping stone can help to improve my Indonesia


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