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Effect of organosolv pretreatment on mechanically pretreated biomass by use of concentrated ethanol as the solvent

Park, Yong Cheol, Kim, Tae Hyun, Kim, Jun Seok
Biotechnology and bioprocess engineering 2017 v.22 no.4 pp. 431-439
biomass, corn stover, enzymatic hydrolysis, ethanol, glucose, recycling, solvents, wheat straw
In this study, we determined the effect of organosolv pretreatment on herbaceous biomasses corn stover and wheat straw, by using high-concentration ethanol as the solvent. A high-concentration of ethanol allows for the easy reuse and recycling of the solvent. First, we tested the effects of ethanol pretreatments at 60 and 99.5% (w/w) and found that highest solvent concentration resulted in low glucose digestibility. The maximum enzymatic glucose digestibility with 60% ethanol was 92.6% at 190°C for 120 min (using corn stover) and 86.9% at 190°C for 120 min (using wheat straw). In contrast, the digestion rates with 99.5% ethanol were 68.8 and 77.4% under the same conditions, respectively, indicating that there is a limit to the use of high-concentration ethanol as the solvent. To overcome this limitation, we applied a mechanical pretreatment step before the chemical pretreatment. Subsequently, glucose digestibility increased significantly to 93.1% with 99.5% ethanol as the solvent. Additionally the enzymatic digestibility of mechanically pretreated corn stover was higher than that of non-pretreated corn stover by about 40%. Taken together, these results confirm the efficacy of using high-concentration ethanol as a solvent for organosolv pretreatment when done in conjunction with mechanical pretreatment.