The technique of autohydrolysis steam explosion was examined as a means for pretreatment of sugarcane bagasse. Treatment conditions were optimized so that following enzymatic hydrolysis, pretreated bagasse would give 65.1 g sugars/100 g starting bagasse. Released sugars comprised 38.9 g glucose, 0.6 g cellobiose, 22.1 g xylose, and 3.5 g arabinose, and were equivalent to 83% of the anhydroglucan and 84% of the anhydroxylan content of untreated bagasse. Optimum conditions were treatment for 30 S with saturated steam at 220°C with a water-to-solids ratio of 2 and the addition of 1 g H2SO4/100 g dry bagasse. Bagasse treated in this manner was not inhibitory to fermentation by Saccharomyces uvarum except at low inoculum levels when fermentation time was extended by up to 24 h. Pretreated saccharified bagasse was inhibitory to Pachysolen tannophilus and this was attributed to the formation of acetate from the hydrolysis of acetyl groups present in hemicellulose. The major advantage of the pretreatment is the achievement of high total sugar yield with moderate enzyme requirement and only minor losses due to sugar decomposition.
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