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Promise of combined hydrothermal/chemical and mechanical refining for pretreatment of woody and herbaceous biomass

Kim, Sun Min, Dien, Bruce S., Singh, Vijay
Biotechnology for biofuels 2016 v.9 no.1 pp. 97
biofuels, biomass, cell walls, commercialization, energy, enzymes, feedstocks, microorganisms, physicochemical properties, refining, sugars, synergism
Production of advanced biofuels from woody and herbaceous feedstocks is moving into commercialization. Biomass needs to be pretreated to overcome the physicochemical properties of biomass that hinder enzyme accessibility, impeding the conversion of the plant cell walls to fermentable sugars. Pretreatment also remains one of the most costly unit operations in the process and among the most critical because it is the source of chemicals that inhibit enzymes and microorganisms and largely determines enzyme loading and sugar yields. Pretreatments are categorized into hydrothermal (aqueous)/chemical, physical, and biological pretreatments, and the mechanistic details of which are briefly outlined in this review. To leverage the synergistic effects of different pretreatment methods, conducting two or more pretreatments consecutively has gained attention. Especially, combining hydrothermal/chemical pretreatment and mechanical refining, a type of physical pretreatment, has the potential to be applied to an industrial plant. Here, the effects of the combined pretreatment (combined hydrothermal/chemical pretreatment and mechanical refining) on energy consumption, physical structure, sugar yields, and enzyme dosage are summarized.