Enzymatic Hydrolysis and Ethanol Fermentation of High Dry Matter Wet-Exploded Wheat Straw at Low Enzyme Loading
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Wheat straw was pretreated by wet explosion using three different oxidizing agents (H2O2, O2, and air). The effect of the pretreatment was evaluated based on glucose and xylose liberated during enzymatic hydrolysis. The results showed that pretreatment with the use of O2 as oxidizing agent was the most efficient in enhancing overall convertibility of the raw material to sugars and minimizing generation of furfural as a by-product. For scale-up of the process, high dry matter (DM) concentrations of 15–20% will be necessary. However, high DM hydrolysis and fermentation are limited by high viscosity of the material, higher inhibition of the enzymes, and fermenting microorganism. The wet-explosion pretreatment method enabled relatively high yields from both enzymatic hydrolysis and simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) to be obtained when performed on unwashed slurry with 14% DM and a low enzyme loading of 10 FPU/g cellulose in an industrial acceptable time frame of 96 h. Cellulose and hemicellulose conversion from enzymatic hydrolysis were 70 and 68%, respectively, and an overall ethanol yield from SSF was 68%.