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Lignin-first biomass fractionation using a hybrid organosolv – Steam explosion pretreatment technology improves the saccharification and fermentability of spruce biomass

Matsakas, Leonidas, Raghavendran, Vijayendran, Yakimenko, Olga, Persson, Gustav, Olsson, Eva, Rova, Ulrika, Olsson, Lisbeth, Christakopoulos, Paul
Bioresource technology 2019 v.273 pp. 521-528
Picea, biomass, biorefining, biotransformation, cellulose, delignification, ethanol, feedstocks, fractionation, fuels, hemicellulose, lignin, lignocellulose, renewable resources, saccharification, sustainable communities
For a transition to a sustainable society, fuels, chemicals, and materials should be produced from renewable resources. Lignocellulosic biomass constitutes an abundant and renewable feedstock; however, its successful application in a biorefinery requires efficient fractionation into its components; cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. Here, we demonstrate that a newly established hybrid organosolv – steam explosion pretreatment can effectively fractionate spruce biomass to yield pretreated solids with high cellulose (72% w/w) and low lignin (delignification up to 79.4% w/w) content. The cellulose-rich pretreated solids present high saccharification yields (up to 61% w/w) making them ideal for subsequent bioconversion processes. Moreover, under high-gravity conditions (22% w/w) we obtained an ethanol titer of 61.7 g/L, the highest so far reported for spruce biomass. Finally, the obtained high-purity lignin is suitable for various advanced applications. In conclusion, hybrid organosolv pretreatment could offer a closed-loop biorefinery while simultaneously adding value to all biomass components.