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Evaluation of wet air oxidation as a pretreatment strategy for bioethanol production from rice husk and process optimization

Banerjee, Saumita, Sen, Ramkrishna, Pandey, R.A., Chakrabarti, Tapan, Satpute, Dewanand, Giri, Balendu Shekher, Mudliar, Sandeep
Biomass and bioenergy 2009 v.33 no.12 pp. 1680-1686
rice hulls, biofuels, ethanol production, oxidation, pretreatment, processing technology, optimization, temperature, air, pressure, cellulose, lignin, hemicellulose, solubilization, hexoses, pentoses, fermentation, prediction, glucose, xylose, enzymatic hydrolysis
The pretreatment of rice husk by the wet air oxidation (WAO) technique was investigated by means of a statistically designed set of experiments. Reaction temperature, air pressure, and reaction time were the process parameters considered. WAO pretreatment of rice husk increased the cellulose content of the solid fraction by virtue of lignin removal and hemicellulose solubilization. The cellulose recovery was around 92%, while lignin recovery was in the tune of 8-20%, indicating oxidation of a bulk quantity of lignin. The liquid fraction was found to be rich in hexose and pentose sugars, which could be directly utilized as substrate for ethanol fermentation. The WAO process was optimized by multi-objective numerical optimization with the help of MINITAB 14 suite of statistical software, and an optimum WAO condition of 185 °C, 0.5 MPa, and 15 min was predicted and experimentally validated to give 67% (w/w) cellulose content in the solid fraction, along with 89% lignin removal, and 70% hemicellulose solubilization; 13.1 gl-1 glucose and 3.4 gl-1 xylose were detected in the liquid fraction. The high cellulose content and negligible residual lignin in the solid fraction would greatly facilitate subsequent enzymatic hydrolysis, and result in improved ethanol yields from rice husk.