, Volume 68, Issue 1-2, pp 21-40

Pretreatment of yellow poplar sawdust by pressure cooking in water

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The pretreatment of yellow poplar wood sawdust using liquid water at temperatures above 220°C enhances enzyme hydrolysis. This paper reviews our prior research and describes the laboratory reactor system currently in use for cooking wood sawdust at temperatures ranging from 220 to 260°C. The wood sawdust at a 6–6.6% solid/liquid slurry was treated in a 2 L, 304 SS, Parr reactor with three turbine propeller agitators and a proportional integral derivative (PID) controller, which controlled temperature within ±1°C. Heat-up times to the final temperatures of 220, 240, or 260°C were achieved in 60–70 min. Hold time at the final temperature was less than 1 min. A serpentine cooling coil, through which tap water was circulated at the completion of the run, cooled the reactor’s contents within 3 min after the maximum temperature was attained. A bottoms port, as well as ports in the reactor’s head plate, facilitated sampling of the slurry and measuring the pH, which changes from an initial value of 5 before cooking to a value of approx 3 after cooking. Enzyme hydrolysis gave 80–90% conversion of cellulose in the pretreated wood to glucose. Simultaneous saccharification and fermentation of washed, pretreated lignocellulose gave an ethanol yield that was 55% of theoretical. Untreated wood sawdust gave less than 5% hydrolysis under the same conditions.