Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 304–314 | Cite as

Nitric-acid hydrolysis of Miscanthus giganteus to sugars fermented to bioethanol

  • Fuxin Yang
  • Waheed Afzal
  • Kun Cheng
  • Nian Liu
  • Markus Pauly
  • Alexis T. Bell
  • Zhigang Liu
  • John M. PrausnitzEmail author
Research Paper


Miscanthus giganteus (M. giganteus) is a promising feedstock for the production of bioethanol or biochemicals. Using only dilute nitric acid, this work describes a two-step process for hydrolyzing hemicellulose and cellulose to fermentable sugars. Primary variables were temperature and reaction time. The solid-to-liquid mass ratio was 1:8. No enzymes were used. In the first step, M. giganteus was contacted with 0.5 wt.% nitric acid at temperatures between 120 and 160°C for 5 to 40 min. The second step used 0.5 or 0.75 wt.% nitric acid at temperatures between 180 and 210°C for less than 6 min. Under selected conditions, almost all hemicellulose and 58% cellulose were transferred to the liquid phase. Small amounts of degradation products were observed. The xylose solution obtained from the nitric-acid hydrolysis was fermented for 96 h and the glucose solution for 48 h to yield 0.41 g ethanol/g xylose and 0.46 g ethanol/g glucose. To characterize residual solids and the liquor from both steps, nuclear-magneticresonance (NMR) spectroscopy was performed for each fraction. The analytical data indicate that the liquid phase from Steps 1 and 2 contain little lignin or lignin derivatives.


Miscanthus giganteus dilute-nitric-acid hydrolysis two-step process fermentation analysis with NMR 


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Copyright information

© The Korean Society for Biotechnology and Bioengineering and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fuxin Yang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Waheed Afzal
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Kun Cheng
    • 1
  • Nian Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Markus Pauly
    • 1
  • Alexis T. Bell
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhigang Liu
    • 3
  • John M. Prausnitz
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Energy Biosciences InstituteUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Chemical & Biomolecular EngineeringUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  3. 3.MOE Key Laboratory of Thermo-Fluid Science and EngineeringXi’an Jiaotong UniversityXi’an, ShaanxiChina
  4. 4.School of EngineeringUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenUK

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