Moniruzzaman, M., Dale, B.E., Hespell, R.B. et al. Appl Biochem Biotechnol (1997) 67: 113. doi:10.1007/BF02787846
Corn fiber is a grain-processing residue containing significant amounts of cellulose, hemicellulose, and starch, which is collected in facilities where fuel ethanol is currently manufactured. Preliminary research has shown that corn fiber (30% moisture dry weight basis [dwb]) responds well to ammonia-fiber explosion (AFEX) pretreatment. However, an important AFEX pretreatment variable that has not been adequately explored for corn fiber is sample moisture. In the present investigation, we determined the best AFEX operating conditions for pretreatment of corn fiber at high moisture content (150% moisture dwb). The optimized AFEX treatment conditions are defined in terms of the moisture content, particle size, ammonia to biomass ratio, temperature, and residence time using the response of the pretreated biomass to enzymatic hydrolysis as an indicator. Approximate optimal-pretreatment conditions for unground corn fiber containing 150% (dwb) moisture were found to be: temperature, 90‡C; ammonia: dry corn fiber mass ratio, 1:1; and residence time 30 min (average reactor pressure under these conditions was 200 pounds per square inch [psig]). Enzymatic hydrolysis of the treated corn fiber was performed with three different enzyme combinations. More than 80% of the theoretical sugar yield was obtained during enzymatic hydrolysis using the best enzyme combination after pretreatment of corn fiber under the optimized conditions previously described. A simple process for enzyme recovery and reuse to hydrolyze multiple portions of AFEX-treated corn fiber by one portion of enzyme preparation is demonstrated. Using this process, five batches of fresh substrate (at a concentration of 5% w/v) were successfully hydrolyzed by repeated recovery and reuse of one portion of enzyme preparation, with the addition of a small portion of fresh enzyme in each subsequent recycling step.