, Volume 83, Issue 3, pp 447-455
Date: 05 Feb 2009

Identification and characterization of fermentation inhibitors formed during hydrothermal treatment and following SSF of wheat straw

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A pilot plant for hydrothermal treatment of wheat straw was compared in reactor systems of two steps (first, 80°C; second, 190–205°C) and of three steps (first, 80°C; second, 170–180°C; third, 195°C). Fermentation (SSF) with Sacharomyces cerevisiae of the pretreated fibers and hydrolysate from the two-step system gave higher ethanol yield (64–75%) than that obtained from the three-step system (61–65%), due to higher enzymatic cellulose convertibility. At the optimal conditions (two steps, 195°C for 6 min), 69% of available C6-sugar could be fermented into ethanol with a high hemicellulose recovery (65%). The concentration of furfural obtained during the pretreatment process increased versus temperature from 50 mg/l at 190°C to 1,200 mg/l at 205°C as a result of xylose degradation. S. cerevisiae detoxified the hydrolysates by degradation of several toxic compounds such as 90–99% furfural and 80–100% phenolic aldehydes, which extended the lag phase to 5 h. Acetic acid concentration increased by 0.2–1 g/l during enzymatic hydrolysis and 0–3.4 g/l during fermentation due to hydrolysis of acetyl groups and minor xylose degradation. Formic acid concentration increased by 0.5–1.5 g/l probably due to degradation of furfural. Phenolic aldehydes were oxidized to the corresponding acids during fermentation reducing the inhibition level.