Publication Type: Journal Article
Source: Biotechnology for Biofuels, Volume 2, Number 1, p.30 (2009)
Pretreatment chemistry is of central importance due to its impacts on cellulosic biomass processing and biofuels conversion. Ammonia fiber expansion (AFEX) and dilute acid are two promising pretreatments using alkaline and acidic pH that have distinctive differences in pretreatment chemistries.RESULTS:Comparative evaluation on these two pretreatments reveal that (i) AFEX-pretreated corn stover is significantly more fermentable with respect to cell growth and sugar consumption, (ii) both pretreatments can achieve more than 80% of total sugar yield in the enzymatic hydrolysis of washed pretreated solids, and (iii) while AFEX completely preserves plant carbohydrates, dilute acid pretreatment at 5% solids loading degrades 13% of xylose to byproducts.CONCLUSION:The selection of pretreatment will determine the biomass-processing configuration, requirements for hydrolysate conditioning (if any) and fermentation strategy. Through dilute acid pretreatment, the need for hemicellulase in biomass processing is negligible. AFEX-centered cellulosic technology can alleviate fermentation costs through reducing inoculum size and practically eliminating nutrient costs during bioconversion. However, AFEX requires supplemental xylanases as well as cellulase activity. As for long-term sustainability, AFEX has greater potential to diversify products from a cellulosic biorefinery due to lower levels of inhibitor generation and lignin loss.