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Keywords:

  • coffee pulp;
  • pretreatment;
  • fermentable sugars;
  • bioethanol

The use of lignocellulosic raw materials in bioethanol production has been intensively investigated in recent years. However, for efficient conversion to ethanol, many pretreatment steps are required prior to hydrolysis and fermentation. Coffee stands out as the most important agricultural product in Brazil and wastes such as pulp and coffee husk are generated during the wet and dry processing to obtain green grains, respectively. This work focused on the optimization of alkaline pretreatment of coffee pulp with the aim of making its use in the alcoholic fermentation. A central composite rotatable design was used with three independent variables: sodium hydroxide and calcium hydroxide concentrations and alkaline pretreatment time, totaling 17 experiments. After alkaline pretreatment the concentration of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin remaining in the material, the subsequent hydrolysis of the cellulose component and its fermentation of substrate were evaluated. The results indicated that pretreatment using 4% (w/v) sodium hydroxide solution, with no calcium hydroxide, and 25 min treatment time gave the best results (69.18% cellulose remaining, 44.15% hemicelluloses remaining, 25.19% lignin remaining, 38.13 g/L of reducing sugars, and 27.02 g/L of glucose) and produced 13.66 g/L of ethanol with a yield of 0.4 g ethanol/g glucose. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 30:451–462, 2014