, Volume 105, Issue 1-3, pp 165-177

Effects of temperature and moisture on dilute-acid steam explosion pretreatment of corn stover and cellulase enzyme digestibility

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Corn stover is emerging as a viable feedstock for producing bioethanol from renewable resources. Dilute-acid pretreatment of corn stover can solubilize a significant portion of the hemicellulosic component and enhance the enzymatic digestibility of the remaining cellulose for fermentation into ethanol. In this study, dilute H2SO4 pretreatment of corn stover was performed in a steam explosion reactor at 160°C, 180°C, and 190°C, approx 1 wt% H2SO4, and 70-s to 840-s residence times. The combined severity (Log10 [R o ] - pH), an expression relating pH, temperature, and residence time of pretreatment, ranged from 1.8 to 2.4. Soluble xylose yields varied from 63 to 77% of theoretical from pretreatments of corn stover at 160 and 180°C. However, yields >90% of theoretical were found with dilute-acid pretreatments at 190°C. A narrower range of higher combined severities was required for pretreatment to obtain high soluble xylose yields when the moisture content of the acid-impregnated feedstock was increased from 55 to 63 wt%. Simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) of washed solids from corn stover pretreated at 190°C, using an enzyme loading of 15 filter paper units (FPU)/g of cellulose, gave ethanol yields in excess of 85%. Similar SSF ethanol yields were found using washed solid residues from 160 and 180°C pretreatments at similar combined severities but required a higher enzyme loading of approx 25 FPU/g of cellulose.