Comparative sugar recovery and fermentation data following pretreatment of poplar wood by leading technologies



Through a Biomass Refining Consortium for Applied Fundamentals and Innovation among Auburn University, Dartmouth College, Michigan State University, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Purdue University, Texas A&M University, the University of British Columbia, and the University of California at Riverside, leading pretreatment technologies based on ammonia fiber expansion, aqueous ammonia recycle, dilute sulfuric acid, lime, neutral pH, and sulfur dioxide were applied to a single source of poplar wood, and the remaining solids from each technology were hydrolyzed to sugars using the same enzymes. Identical analytical methods and a consistent material balance methodology were employed to develop comparative performance data for each combination of pretreatment and enzymes. Overall, compared to data with corn stover employed previously, the results showed that poplar was more recalcitrant to conversion to sugars and that sugar yields from the combined operations of pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis varied more among pretreatments. However, application of more severe pretreatment conditions gave good yields from sulfur dioxide and lime, and a recombinant yeast strain fermented the mixed stream of glucose and xylose sugars released by enzymatic hydrolysis of water washed solids from all pretreatments to ethanol with similarly high yields. An Agricultural and Industrial Advisory Board followed progress and helped steer the research to meet scientific and commercial needs. © 2009 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 2009