Oil-palm empty fruit bunch (EFB) is abundant from palm-oil industries. One potential utilization of Rhizopus oryzae is the saccharification and fermentation process (SSF) for ethanol and lactic acid production. However, there some problems related to the optimum temperature and pH tolerance of R. oryzae. Encapsulating R. oryzae can help to improve the SSF process. The purpose of this research was to encapsulate the R. oryzae with a calcium alginate polymer to improve the tolerance of R. oryzae cells, which are required to convert EFB to bioethanol, in varying pHs and temperatures. The capsules were tested for their adaptability in high temperatures and varying mid-range pH. The resulting data from the experiment showed that the encapsulation of R. oryzae increased the production of bioethanol, from pretreated EFB through SSF, by 17 % compared to that produced by R. oryzae free cells. The highest yield of ethanol from pretreated EFB was approximately 0.43 g/g cellulose, with a maximum ethanol yield of 75.89%, theoretically.
Keywords: cellulase, empty fruit bunch, encapsulation, lignocellulose, Rhizopus oryzae.