Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Vol.104, No.1, 37-50, 2003
Pretreatment of corn stover using wet oxidation to enhance enzymatic digestibility
Corn stover is an abundant, promising raw material for fuel ethanol production. Although it has a high cellulose content, without pretreatment it resists enzymatic hydrolysis, like most lignocellulosic materials. Wet oxidation (water, oxygen, mild alkali or acid, elevated temperature and pressure) was investigated to enhance the enzymatic digestibility of corn stover. Six different combinations of reaction temperature, time, and pH were applied. The best conditions (60 g/L of corn stover, 195degreesC, 15 min, 12 bar O-2, 2 g/L of Na2CO) increased the enzymatic conversion of corn stover four times, compared to untreated material. Under these conditions 60% of hemicellulose and 30% of lignin were solubilized, whereas 90% of cellulose remained in the solid fraction. After 24-h hydrolysis at 50degreesC using 25 filter paper units (FPU)/g of drymatter (DM) biomass, the achieved conversion of cellulose to glucose was about 85%. Decreasing the hydrolysis temperature to 40degreesC increased hydrolysis time from 24 to 72 h. Decreasing the enzyme loading to 5 FPU/g of DM biomass slightly decreased the enzymatic conversion from 83.4 to 71%. Thus, enzyme loading can be reduced without significantly affecting the efficiency of hydrolysis, an important economical aspect.