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Effect of sodium sulfite on acid pretreatment of wheat straw with respect to its final conversion to ethanol

Jaisamut, Kitipong, Paulová, Leona, Patáková, Petra, Kotúčová, Soňa, Rychtera, Mojmír
Biomass and bioenergy 2016 v.95 pp. 1-7
biomass, cellulose, delignification, enzymatic hydrolysis, ethanol, ethanol production, fermentation, furfural, glucose, hydroxymethylfurfural, microorganisms, pH, sodium sulfite, sulfuric acid, temperature, wheat straw
A pretreatment process that combines dilute acid and sodium sulfite has been applied to wheat straw to study the effect of temperature (120–180 °C) and sodium sulfite concentration (0–3%) on the yield of glucose in subsequent enzymatic hydrolysis and ethanol production by fermentation. The results were compared with both dilute acid pretreatment (without Na2SO3 addition) and hot water pretreatment. Formation of furfural and hydroxymethylfurural, which can inhibit ethanol-producing microorganisms, were measured and the ethanol yield in a subsequent fermentation was evaluated. The results indicate that a combination of 180 °C, 30 min, 1% H2SO4 and 2.4% Na2SO3 during pretreatment produced the highest ethanol yield; 17.3 g/100 g dry weight of initial biomass, which corresponds to 75% of the theoretical yield from glucose. 28 mg of furan inhibitors (sum of furfural and hydroxymethylfurfural) per gram dry weight of initial wheat straw were generated under this condition. Increasing sulfite loading up to 2.4% decreased inhibitor formation, leading to increased delignification and preservation of cellulose from dissolution. On the other hand, an elevated temperature in combination with low pH reduced the amount of solid phase after pretreatment, increased the level of inhibitors and reduced the concentration of ethanol produced by fermentation.