Steam pretreatment of lignocellulosic material for enhanced enzymatic hydrolysis



Pretreatment methods were compared with steam explosion, and differing views on the relative importance of mechanical and chemical effects were outlined. Hydrolysis was desirable; pyrolysis was undesirable. The effects of initial moisture content on steam consumption, mechanism and rate of heat transfer, pentosan solubilization, and subsequent glucose yield were summarized. The insignificant effect, after treatment at 240°C, of 90% pressure bleed-down before explosion on subsequent simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) yields was described. Treatment at 190°C with complete bleed-down (no explosion), when compared with that at 240°C with explosion from full pressure, showed at least as good solubilizatoin of pentosan, enzymatic hydrolysis, and SSF but showed greater pentosan destruction for the same degree of pentosan removal. Water washing of unexploded steamed aspenwood chips was at least as efficient as that of similarly treated but exploded chips. Scanning electron micrographs of unexploded chips showed extensive rupturing of vessel pit membranes and other morphological features associated with steam-exploded wood. Neither the explosion nor the high temperatures (above 190°C) are necessary.