Development and optimization of pressurized batch hot water pretreatment and comparison of warm season grasses for bioconversion to ethanol
Brandon, Sarah Katherine
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Efficient conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to ethanol is required to make the overall process more economically feasible. Developing new and more effective pretreatments to disrupt lignocellulosic biomass prior to enzymatic saccharification and fermentation is one approach to meet this end. A pressurized batch hot water (PBHW) reactor was designed and tested as an autohydrolytic pretreatment for grass biomass. Pretreatment of whole biomass solids at 230° for two minutes was found to be the optimal operating parameters for the pretreatment to disrupt the biomass and remove hemicellulose. Pressure and solids loading during pretreatment had neglible effects on pretreatment efficacy. Tifton 85 bermudagrass, GA 993 switchgrass, and Merkeron napiergrass were evaluated for bioconversion to ethanol using PBHW pretreatment, with napiergrass producing the highest ethanol yield of 22.45 g/L. Inhibitors were also evaluated during the bioconversion process, and PBHW pretreatment results in removal of fermentation and enzyme inhibitors prior to fermentation.