Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Vol.163, No.4, 558-572, 2011
Plasma-Assisted Pretreatment of Wheat Straw
O-3 generated in a plasma at atmospheric pressure and room temperature, fed with dried air (or oxygen-enriched dried air), has been used for the degradation of lignin in wheat straw to optimize the enzymatic hydrolysis and to get more fermentable sugars. A fixed bed reactor was used combined with a CO2 detector and an online technique for O-3 measurement in the fed and exhaust gas allowing continuous measurement of the consumption of O-3. This rendered it possible for us to determine the progress of the pretreatment in real time (online analysis). The process time can be adjusted to produce wheat straw with desired lignin content because of the online analysis. The O-3 consumption of wheat straw and its polymeric components, i.e., cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, as well as a mixture of these, dry as well as with 50% water, were studied. Furthermore, the process parameters dry matter content and milled particle size (the extent to which the wheat straw was milled) were investigated and optimized. The developed methodology offered the advantage of a simple and relatively fast (0.5-2 h) pretreatment allowing a dry matter concentration of 45-60%. FTIR measurements did not suggest any structural effects on cellulose and hemicellulose by the O-3 treatment. The cost and the energy consumption for lignin degradation of 100 g of wheat straw were calculated.