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An overview of key pretreatment processes for biological conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to bioethanol

Maurya, Devendra Prasad, Singla, Ankit, Negi, Sangeeta
3 Biotech 2015 v.5 no.5 pp. 597-609
bioethanol, biomass, cellulose, delignification, digestibility, ethanol, ethanol production, fermentation, glucose, hemicellulose, hydrolysis, lignin, lignocellulose, plant residues, saccharification, wood, xylose
Second-generation bioethanol can be produced from various lignocellulosic biomasses such as wood, agricultural or forest residues. Lignocellulosic biomass is inexpensive, renewable and abundant source for bioethanol production. The conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to bioethanol could be a promising technology though the process has several challenges and limitations such as biomass transport and handling, and efficient pretreatment methods for total delignification of lignocellulosics. Proper pretreatment methods can increase concentrations of fermentable sugars after enzymatic saccharification, thereby improving the efficiency of the whole process. Conversion of glucose as well as xylose to bioethanol needs some new fermentation technologies to make the whole process inexpensive. The main goal of pretreatment is to increase the digestibility of maximum available sugars. Each pretreatment process has a specific effect on the cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin fraction; thus, different pretreatment methods and conditions should be chosen according to the process configuration selected for the subsequent hydrolysis and fermentation steps. The cost of ethanol production from lignocellulosic biomass in current technologies is relatively high. Additionally, low yield still remains as one of the main challenges. This paper reviews the various technologies for maximum conversion of cellulose and hemicelluloses fraction to ethanol, and it point outs several key properties that should be targeted for low cost and maximum yield.