• cellulosic ethanol;
  • woody/forest biomass;
  • fermentation;
  • pretreatment;
  • enzymatic hydrolysis


This study reports comparative evaluations of sugar and ethanol production from a native aspen (Populus tremuloides) between sulfite pretreatment to overcome recalcitrance of lignocellulose (SPORL) and dilute acid (DA) pretreatments. All aqueous pretreatments were carried out in a laboratory wood pulping digester using wood chips at 170°C with a liquid to oven dry (od) wood ratio (L/W) of 3:1 at two levels of acid charge on wood of 0.56 and 1.11%. Sodium bisulfite charge on od wood was 0 for DA and 1.5 or 3.0% for SPORL. All substrates produced by both pretreatments (except DA with pretreatment duration of 0) had good enzymatic digestibility of over 80%. However, SPORL produced higher enzymatic digestibility than its corresponding DA pretreatment for all the experiments conducted. As a result, SPORL produced higher ethanol yield from simultaneous saccharification and fermentation of cellulosic substrate than its corresponding DA pretreatment. SPORL was more effective than its corresponding DA pretreatment in reducing energy consumption for postpretreatment wood chip size-reduction. SPORL, with lower energy input and higher sugar and ethanol yield, produced higher sugar and ethanol production energy efficiencies than the corresponding DA pretreatment. Published 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 2011