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Production of high concentrated cellulosic ethanol by acetone/water oxidized pretreated beech wood

Katsimpouras, Constantinos, Kalogiannis, KonstantinosG., Kalogianni, Aggeliki, Lappas, AngelosA., Topakas, Evangelos
Biotechnology for biofuels 2017 v.10 no.1 pp. 54
Fagus, acetone, bioethanol, biomass, biorefining, cellulases, cellulose, enzymatic hydrolysis, ethanol, ethanol production, feedstocks, fermentation, fuel production, gravity, lignin, lignocellulose, liquefaction, oxidation, oxygen, saccharification, temperature, wood
BACKGROUND: Lignocellulosic biomass is an abundant and inexpensive resource for biofuel production. Alongside its biotechnological conversion, pretreatment is essential to enable efficient enzymatic hydrolysis by making cellulose susceptible to cellulases. Wet oxidation of biomass, such as acetone/water oxidation, that employs hot acetone, water, and oxygen, has been found to be an attractive pretreatment method for removing lignin while producing less degradation products. The remaining enriched cellulose fraction has the potential to be utilized under high gravity enzymatic saccharification and fermentation processes for the cost-competing production of bioethanol. RESULTS: Beech wood residual biomass was pretreated following an acetone/water oxidation process aiming at the production of high concentration of cellulosic ethanol. The effect of pressure, reaction time, temperature, and acetone-to-water ratio on the final composition of the pretreated samples was studied for the efficient utilization of the lignocellulosic feedstock. The optimal conditions were acetone/water ratio 1:1, 40 atm initial pressure of 40 vol% O₂ gas, and 64 atm at reaction temperature of 175 °C for 2 h incubation. The pretreated beech wood underwent an optimization step studying the effect of enzyme loading and solids content on the enzymatic liquefaction/saccharification prior to fermentation. In a custom designed free-fall mixer at 50 °C for either 6 or 12 h of prehydrolysis using an enzyme loading of 9 mg/g dry matter at 20 wt% initial solids content, high ethanol concentration of 75.9 g/L was obtained. CONCLUSION: The optimization of the pretreatment process allowed the efficient utilization of beech wood residual biomass for the production of high concentrations of cellulosic ethanol, while obtaining lignin that can be upgraded towards high-added-value chemicals. The threshold of 4 wt% ethanol concentration that is required for the sustainable bioethanol production was surpassed almost twofold, underpinning the efficient conversion of biomass to ethanol and bio-based chemicals on behalf of the biorefinery concept.