High-pressure microwave-assisted pretreatment of softwood, hardwood and non-wood biomass using different solvents in the production of cellulosic ethanol

Biotechnol Biofuels Bioprod. 2023 Feb 7;16(1):19. doi: 10.1186/s13068-023-02272-9.


BACKGROUND: Pretreatment is an indispensable stage of the preparation of lignocellulosic biomass with key significance for the effectiveness of hydrolysis and the efficiency of the production of cellulosic ethanol. A significant increase in the susceptibility of the raw material to further degradation can be attained as a result of effective delignification in high-pressure conditions. With this in mind, a method of high-pressure pretreatment using microwave radiation and various solvents (water, 40% w/v NaCS, 1% v/v H2SO4, 1% w/v NaOH or 60% v/v EtOH with an addition of 1% v/v H2SO4) was developed, enabling the acquisition of biomass with an increased susceptibility to the process of enzymatic hydrolysis. The medium obtained in this way can be used for the production of cellulosic ethanol via high-gravity technology (lignocellulosic media containing from 15 to 20% dry weight of biomass). For every type of biomass (pine chips, beech chips and wheat straw), a solvent was selected to be used during the pretreatment, guaranteeing the acquisition of a medium highly susceptible to the process of enzymatic hydrolysis.

RESULTS: The highest efficiency of the hydrolysis of biomass, amounting to 71.14 ± 0.97% (glucose concentration 109.26 ± 3.49 g/L) was achieved for wheat straw subjected to microwave-assisted pretreatment using 40% w/v NaCS. Fermentation of this medium produced ethanol concentration at the level of 53.84 ± 1.25 g/L. A slightly lower effectiveness of enzymatic hydrolysis (62.21 ± 0.62%) was achieved after high-pressure microwave-assisted pretreatment of beech chips using 1% w/v NaOH. The hydrolysate contained glucose in the concentration of 91.78 ± 1.91 g/L, and the acquired concentration of ethanol after fermentation amounted to 49.07 ± 2.06 g/L. In the case of pine chips, the most effective delignification was achieved using 60% v/v EtOH with the addition of 1% v/v H2SO4, but after enzymatic hydrolysis, the concentration of glucose in hydrolysate was lower than in the other raw materials and amounted to 39.15 ± 1.62 g/L (the concentration of ethanol after fermentation was ca. 19.67 ± 0.98 g/L). The presence of xylose and galactose was also determined in the obtained fermentation media. The highest initial concentration of these carbohydrates (21.39 ± 1.44 g/L) was observed in beech chips media after microwave-assisted pretreatment using NaOH. The use of wheat straw after pretreatment using EtOH with an addition of 1% v/v H2SO4 for the preparation of fermentation medium, results in the generation of the initial concentration of galactose and xylose at the level of 19.03 ± 0.38 g/L.

CONCLUSION: The achieved results indicate a high effectiveness of the enzymatic hydrolysis of the biomass subjected to high-pressure microwave-assisted pretreatment. The final effect depends on the combined use of correctly selected solvents for the different sources of lignocellulosic biomass. On the basis of the achieved results, we can say that the presented method indicates a very high potential in the area of its use for the production of cellulosic ethanol involving high-gravity technology.

PMID:36750940 | PMC:PMC9906915 | DOI:10.1186/s13068-023-02272-9


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