, Volume 106, Issue 1-3, pp 319-335

Optimization of SO2 -catalyzed steam pretreatment of corn fiber for ethanol production

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A batch reactor was employed to steam explode corn fiber at various degrees of severity to evaluate the potential of using this feedstock as part of an enzymatically mediated cellulose-to-ethanol process. Severity was controlled by altering temperature (150–230°C), residence time (1–9 min), and SO2 concentration (0–6% [w/w] dry matter). The effects of varying the different parameters were assessed by response surface modeling. The results indicated that maximum sugar yields (hemicellulose-derived water soluble, and cellulose-derived following enzymatic hydrolysis) were recovered from corn fiber pretreated at 190°C for 5 minutes after exposure to 3% SO2. Sequential SO2-catalyzed steam explosion and enzymatic hydrolysis resulted in a conversion efficiency of 81% of the combined original hemicellulose and cellulose in the corn fiber to monomeric sugars. An additional posthydrolysis step performed on water soluble hemicellulose stream increased the concentration of sugars available for fermentation by 10%, resulting in the high conversion efficiency of 91%. Saccharomyces cerevisiae was able to ferment the resultant corn fiber hydrolysates, perhydrolysate, and liquid fraction from the posthydrolysis steps to 89, 94, and 85% of theoretical ethanol conversion, respectively. It was apparent that all of the parameters investigated during the steam explosion pretreatment had a significant effect on sugar recovery, inhibitory formation, enzymatic conversion efficiency, and fermentation capacity of the yeast.