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Mixing alkali pretreated and acid pretreated biomass for cellulosic ethanol production featuring reduced chemical use and decreased inhibitory effect

Chen, Xiangxue, Zhai, Rui, Shi, Kaiqiang, Yuan, Ye, Dale, Bruce E., Gao, Zhen, Jin, Mingjie
Industrial crops and products 2018 v.124 pp. 719-725
Zymomonas mobilis, alkali treatment, bioethanol, biomass, biorefining, corn stover, digestibility, enzymatic hydrolysis, enzymes, ethanol fermentation, ethanol production, feedstocks, fuel production, lignocellulose, liquids, mixing, neutralization, slurries, toxicity, washing
Alkali and acid pretreatment based processes for lignocellulosic biofuel production typically consume substantial amount of alkali and acid. In addition, alkali pretreatment generates compounds with high toxicity rendering washing/detoxification inevitable. In this work, alkali (AL) and dilute acid (DA) pretreatment based processes were compared side by side for ethanol production from corn stover (CS) using commercial enzymes and Zymomonas mobilis 8b strain. Next, AL and DA pretreated CS slurries (without removing liquid stream) were mixed to neutralize for enzymatic hydrolysis and ethanol fermentation. The digestibility and fermentability of the mixed pretreated biomass were systematically studied and compared to unmixed pretreated biomass. Results showed that mixed biomass process saved 40–50% alkali/acid use and enhanced fermentability compared to AL-CS. This work suggests that it could be beneficial to have both alkali and acid pretreatments operating in a biorefinery, which could accommodate various feedstocks.