, Volume 39-40, Issue 1, pp 587-600

Continuous fermentation of cellulosic biomass to ethanol

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Abstract

Experimental results are presented for continuous conversion of pretreated hardwood flour to ethanol. A simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) system comprised ofTrichoderma reesei cellulase supplemented with additional β-glucosidase and fermentation bySaccharomyces cerevisiae was used for most experiments, with data also presented for a direct microbial conversion (DMC) system comprised ofClostridium thermocellum. Using a batch SSF system, dilute acid pretreatment of mixed hardwood at short residence time(10 s, 220°C, 1% H2SO4) was compared to poplar wood pretreated at longer residence time (20 min, 160°C, 0.45% H2SO4). The short residence time pretreatment resulted in a somewhat (10–20%) more reactive substrate, with the reactivity difference particularly notable at low enzyme loadings and/or low agitation. Based on a preliminary screening, inhibition of SSF by byproducts of short residence time pretreatment was measurable, but minor. Both SSF and DMC were carried out successfully in well-mixed continuous systems, with steady-state data obtained at residence times of 0.58–3 d for SSF as well as 0.5 and 0.75 d for DMC. The SSF system achieved substrate conversions varying from 31% at a 0.58-d residence time to 86% at a 2-d residence time. At comparable substrate concentrations (4–5 g/l) and residence times (0.5–0.58 d), substrate conversion in the DMC system (77%) was significantly higher than that in the SSF system (31%). Our results suggest that the substrate conversion in SSF carried out in CSTR is relatively insensitive to enzyme loading in the range 7–25 U/g cellulose and to substrate concentration in the range of 5–60 g/L cellulose in the feed.