Biotechnological Products and Process Engineering

Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 83, Issue 3, pp 447-455

First online:

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

  • Mette Hedegaard ThomsenAffiliated withBiosystems Division, Risø DTU, Technical University of Denmark Email author 
  • , Anders ThygesenAffiliated withBiosystems Division, Risø DTU, Technical University of Denmark
  • , Anne Belinda ThomsenAffiliated withBiosystems Division, Risø DTU, Technical University of Denmark

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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.


Pilot scale pretreatment Lignocellulose Furans Phenols Simultaneous saccharification and fermentation Sacharomyces cerevisiae