Biotechnology Letters

, Volume 8, Issue 10, pp 749-752

First online:

SO2-catalysed prehydrolysis of coniferous wood for ethanol production

  • Morris WaymanAffiliated withUniversity of Toronto
  • , Sarad ParekhAffiliated withUniversity of Toronto
  • , Esteban ChornetAffiliated withDépartement de génie chimique, Université de Sherbrooke
  • , Ralph P. OverendAffiliated withDépartement de génie chimique, Université de SherbrookeDivision of Biosciences, National 1 Research Council of Canada

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This paper reports studies of large scale, 1500 kg/h, SO2-catalysed prehydrolysis of coniferous wood chips, samples then being hydrolyzed by a wood-saccharifying enzyme system followed by fermentation to ethanol in the laboratory. Hemicellulose hydrolysis using SO2 catalyst (prehydrolysis) was found to be more effective than steam alone (autohydrolysis). Prehydrolysis time was 2 min, with steam pressure at 1.2 to 1.7 MPa (175 to 250 psig), and SO2 catalyst 2.0 to 2.6% on dry wood. The amount of sugars recovered upon enzyme saccharification of the prehydrolysed wood was about 70% of the weight of the wood. When these combined hemicellulose and cellulose sugars were fermented by a pentose-fermenting strain of yeast,Pichia stipitis R, 372 L ethanol/tonne of (dry) wood was obtained.