The alkali consumption during alkaline treatment of wheat straw at ambient temperature was measured as a function of time, solids concentration, and alkali concentration. The maximum measured alkali consumption was 5.5 g NaOH/100 g TS over a period of 30 days of treatment. Chemical functional groups (e.g., acyl and carboxyl groups) were measured and compared with the observed alkali consumption. The kinetics of alkali consumption were studied and a model was developed which predicts alkali consumption reasonably well. Use of this model was made to predict biodegradability of alkali-treated wheat straw, since a strong correlation was found to exist between alkali consumption and observed biodegradability. The method of bioconversion used was anaerobic digestion for methane production.
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