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The roles of xylan and lignin in oxalic acid pretreated corncob during separate enzymatic hydrolysis and ethanol fermentation

Lee, Jae-Won, Rodrigues, Rita C.L.B., Kim, Hyun Joo, Choi, In-Gyu, Jeffries, Thomas W.
Bioresource technology 2010 v.101 no.12 pp. 4379
Zea mays, corn cobs, hemicellulose, cellulose, saccharification, xylan, lignin, glucans, enzymatic hydrolysis, cellulases, beta-glucosidase, alcoholic fermentation, oxalic acid, acid treatment, reducing sugars, Pichia stipitis, ethanol, biofuels, renewable energy sources, biomass, response surface methodology, glucose, xylose
High yields of hemicellulosic and cellulosic sugars are critical in obtaining economical conversion of agricultural residues to ethanol. To optimize pretreatment conditions, we evaluated oxalic acid loading rates, treatment temperatures and times in a 2³ full factorial design. Response-surface analysis revealed an optimal oxalic acid pretreatment condition to release sugar from the cob of Zea mays L. ssp. and for Pichia stipitis CBS 6054. To ferment the residual cellulosic sugars to ethanol following enzymatic hydrolysis, highest saccharification and fermentation yields were obtained following pretreatment at 180°C for 50min with 0.024g oxalic acid/g substrate. Under these conditions, only 7.5% hemicellulose remained in the pretreated substrate. The rate of cellulose degradation was significantly less than that of hemicellulose and its hydrolysis was not as extensive. Subsequent enzymatic saccharification of the residual cellulose was strongly affected by the pretreatment condition with cellulose hydrolysis ranging between 26.0% and 76.2%. The residual xylan/lignin ratio ranged from 0.31 to 1.85 depending on the pretreatment condition. Fermentable sugar and ethanol were maximal at the lowest ratio of xylan/lignin and at high glucan contents. The model predicts optimal condition of oxalic acid pretreatment at 168°C, 74min and 0.027g/g of oxalic acid. From these findings, we surmised that low residual xylan was critical in obtaining maximal glucose yields from saccharification.