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Evaluation and Characterization of Forage Sorghum as Feedstock for Fermentable Sugar Production

Corredor, D. Y., Salazar, J. M., Hohn, K. L., Bean, S., Bean, B., Wang, D.
Applied biochemistry and biotechnology 2009 v.158 no.1 pp. 164
fermentation, sugars, Sorghum (Poaceae), forage crops, forage grasses, byproducts, stems, leaves, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, chemical composition, pretreatment, enzymatic hydrolysis, lignin, cellulose, hexoses, pentoses, yields, sulfuric acid, cellulases, beta-glucosidase
Sorghum is a tropical grass grown primarily in semiarid and drier parts of the world, especially areas too dry for corn. Sorghum production also leaves about 58 million tons of by-products composed mainly of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. The low lignin content of some forage sorghums such as brown midrib makes them more digestible for ethanol production. Successful use of biomass for biofuel production depends on not only pretreatment methods and efficient processing conditions but also physical and chemical properties of the biomass. In this study, four varieties of forage sorghum (stems and leaves) were characterized and evaluated as feedstock for fermentable sugar production. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction were used to determine changes in structure and chemical composition of forage sorghum before and after pretreatment and the enzymatic hydrolysis process. Forage sorghums with a low syringyl/guaiacyl ratio in their lignin structure were easy to hydrolyze after pretreatment despite the initial lignin content. Enzymatic hydrolysis was also more effective for forage sorghums with a low crystallinity index and easily transformed crystalline cellulose to amorphous cellulose, despite initial cellulose content. Up to 72% hexose yield and 94% pentose yield were obtained using modified steam explosion with 2% sulfuric acid at 140 °C for 30 min and enzymatic hydrolysis with cellulase (15 filter per unit (FPU)/g cellulose) and β-glucosidase (50 cellobiose units (CBU)/g cellulose).