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Keywords:

  • corn stalk;
  • pith;
  • rind;
  • liquid hot-water pretreatment;
  • cellulose hydrolysis;
  • plant cell wall deconstruction;
  • cellulose ethanol;
  • biofuels

Abstract

Lignin content, composition, distribution as well as cell wall thickness, structures, and type of tissue have a measurable effect on enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulose in lignocellulosic feedstocks. The first part of our work combined compositional analysis, pretreatment and enzyme hydrolysis for fractionated pith, rind, and leaf tissues from a hybrid stay-green corn, in order to identify the role of structural characteristics on enzyme hydrolysis of cell walls. The extent of enzyme hydrolysis follows the sequence rind < leaves < pith with 90% conversion of cellulose to glucose in 24 h in the best cases. Physical fractionation of corn stalks or other C4 grasses into soft and hard tissue types could reduce cost of cellulose conversion by enabling reduced enzyme loadings to hydrolyze soft tissue, and directing the hard tissue to other uses such as thermal processing, combustion, or recycle to the land from which the corn was harvested. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2012; 109:390–397. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.