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Biotechnology for Biofuels

, 9:245

First Online: 10 November 2016Received: 07 July 2016Accepted: 01 November 2016


BackgroundFlowthrough pretreatment is capable of removing much higher quantities of hemicellulose and lignin from lignocellulosic biomass than batch pretreatment performed at otherwise similar conditions. Comparison of these two pretreatment configurations for sugar yields and lignin removal can provide insights into lignocellulosic biomass deconstruction. Therefore, we applied liquid hot water LHW and extremely dilute acid EDA, 0.05% flowthrough and batch pretreatments of poplar at two temperatures and the same pretreatment severity for the solids. Composition of solids, sugar mass distribution with pretreatment, sugar yields, and lignin removal from pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis were measured.

ResultsFlowthrough aqueous pretreatment of poplar showed between 63 and 69% lignin removal at both 140 and 180 °C, while batch pretreatments showed about 20 to 33% lignin removal at similar conditions. Extremely dilute acid slightly enhanced lignin removal from solids with flowthrough pretreatment at both pretreatment temperatures. However, extremely dilute acid batch pretreatment did realize greater than 70% xylan yields largely in the form of monomeric xylose. Close to 100% total sugar yields were measured from LHW and EDA flowthrough pretreatments and one batch EDA pretreatment at 180 °C. The high lignin removal by flowthrough pretreatment enhanced cellulose digestibility compared to batch pretreatment, consistent with lignin being a key contributor to biomass recalcitrance. Furthermore, solids from 180 °C flowthrough pretreatment were much more digestible than solids pretreated at 140 °C despite similar lignin and extensive hemicellulose removal.

ConclusionsResults with flowthrough pretreatment show that about 65–70% of the lignin is solubilized and removed before it can react further to form low solubility lignin rich fragments that deposit on the biomass surface in batch operations and hinder enzyme action. The leftover 30–35% lignin in poplar was a key player in biomass recalcitrance to enzymatic deconstruction and it might be more difficult to dislodge from biomass with lower temperature of pretreatment. These results also point to the possibility that hemicellulose removal is more important as an indicator of lignin disruption than in playing a direct role in reducing biomass recalcitrance.

KeywordsBatch Dilute acid Flowthrough Lignocellulosic biomass Liquid hot water Pretreatment Poplar Recalcitrance AbbreviationsLHWliquid hot water

EDAextremely dilute acid

BESCBioenergy Science Center

BESC STDBESC standard poplar

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-s13068-016-0660-5 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Author: Samarthya Bhagia - Hongjia Li - Xiadi Gao - Rajeev Kumar - Charles E. Wyman

Source: https://link.springer.com/

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