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Keywords:

  • simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF);
  • corn stover;
  • ethanol fermentation;
  • high solid concentration

Abstract

In this study ethanol was produced from corn stover pretreated by alkaline and acidic wet oxidation (WO) (195°C, 15 min, 12 bar oxygen) followed by nonisothermal simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF). In the first step of the SSF, small amounts of cellulases were added at 50°C, the optimal temperature of enzymes, in order to obtain better mixing condition due to some liquefaction. In the second step more cellulases were added in combination with dried baker's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) at 30°C. The phenols (0.4–0.5 g/L) and carboxylic acids (4.6–5.9 g/L) were present in the hemicellulose rich hydrolyzate at subinhibitory levels, thus no detoxification was needed prior to SSF of the whole slurry. Based on the cellulose available in the WO corn stover 83% of the theoretical ethanol yield was obtained under optimized SSF conditions. This was achieved with a substrate concentration of 12% dry matter (DM) acidic WO corn stover at 30 FPU/g DM (43.5 FPU/g cellulose) enzyme loading. Even with 20 and 15 FPU/g DM (corresponding to 29 and 22 FPU/g cellulose) enzyme loading, ethanol yields of 76 and 73%, respectively, were obtained. After 120 h of SSF the highest ethanol concentration of 52 g/L (6 vol.%) was achieved, which exceeds the technical and economical limit of the industrial-scale alcohol distillation. The SSF results showed that the cellulose in pretreated corn stover can be efficiently fermented to ethanol with up to 15% DM concentration. A further increase of substrate concentration reduced the ethanol yield significant as a result of insufficient mass transfer. It was also shown that the fermentation could be followed with an easy monitoring system based on the weight loss of the produced CO2. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.