• wet air oxidation;
  • alkaline peroxide pretreatment;
  • rice husk;
  • enzymatic convertibility;
  • bioethanol


Pretreatment of rice husk by alkaline peroxide assisted wet air oxidation (APAWAO) approach was investigated with the aim to enhance the enzymatic convertibility of cellulose in pretreated rice husk. Rice husk was presoaked overnight in 1% (w/v) H2O2 solution (pH adjusted to 11.5 using NaOH) (equivalent to 16.67 g H2O2 and 3.63 g NaOH per 100 g dry, untreated rice husk) at room temperature, followed by wet air oxidation (WAO). APAWAO pretreatment resulted in solubilization of 67 wt % of hemicellulose and 88 wt % of lignin initially present in raw rice husk. Some amount of oligomeric glucose (˜8.3 g/L) was also observed in the APAWAO liquid fraction. APAWAO pretreatment resulted in 13-fold increase in the amount of glucose that could be obtained from otherwise untreated rice husk. Up to 86 wt % of cellulose in the pretreated rice husk (solid fraction) could be converted into glucose within 24 hours, yielding over 21 g glucose per 100 g original rice husk. Scanning electron microscopy was performed to visualize changes in biomass structure following the APAWAO pretreatment. Enzymatic cellulose convertibility of the pretreated slurry at high dry matter loadings was also investigated. © 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 2011