The rapid depletion and environmental concerns associated with the use of fossil fuels has led to extensive development of biofuels such as bioethanol from seaweeds. The long-term prospect of seaweed bioethanol production however, depends on the selection of processes in the hydrolysis and fermentation stages due to their limiting effect on ethanol yield. This review explored the factors influencing the hydrolysis and fermentation stages of seaweed bioethanol production with emphasis on process efficiency and sustainable application. Seaweed carbohydrate contents which are most critical for ethanol production substrate selection were 52 ± 6%, 55 ± 12% and 57 ± 13% for green, brown and red seaweeds, respectively. Inhibitor formation and polysaccharide selectivity were found to be the major bottlenecks influencing the efficiency of dilute acid and enzymatic hydrolysis, respectively. Current enzyme preparations used, were developed for starch-based and lignocellulosic biomass but not seaweeds, which differs in polysaccharide composition and structure. Also, the identification of fermenting organisms capable of converting the heterogeneous monomeric sugars in seaweeds is the major factor limiting ethanol yield during the fermentation stage and not the SHF or SSF pathway selection. This has resulted in variations in bioethanol yields, ranging from 0.04 g/g DM to 0.43 g/g DM.
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