Rapid and effective oxidative pretreatment of woody biomass at mild reaction conditions and low oxidant loadings

TitleRapid and effective oxidative pretreatment of woody biomass at mild reaction conditions and low oxidant loadings
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsLi, Z, Chen, CH, Hegg, EL, Hodge, DB
JournalBiotechnol Biofuels
Date Published2013 Aug 26

BACKGROUND: One route for producing cellulosic biofuels is by the fermentation of lignocellulose-derived sugars generated from a pretreatment that can be effectively coupled with an enzymatic hydrolysis of the plant cell wall. While woody biomass exhibits a number of positive agronomic and logistical attributes, these feedstocks are significantly more recalcitrant to chemical pretreatments than herbaceous feedstocks, requiring higher chemical and energy inputs to achieve high sugar yields from enzymatic hydrolysis. We previously discovered that alkaline hydrogen peroxide (AHP) pretreatment catalyzed by copper(II) 2,2΄-bipyridine complexes significantly improves subsequent enzymatic glucose and xylose release from hybrid poplar heartwood and sapwood relative to uncatalyzed AHP pretreatment at modest reaction conditions (room temperature and atmospheric pressure). In the present work, the reaction conditions for this catalyzed AHP pretreatment were investigated in more detail with the aim of better characterizing the relationship between pretreatment conditions and subsequent enzymatic sugar release.

RESULTS: We found that for a wide range of pretreatment conditions, the catalyzed pretreatment resulted in significantly higher glucose and xylose enzymatic hydrolysis yields (as high as 80% for both glucose and xylose) relative to uncatalyzed pretreatment (up to 40% for glucose and 50% for xylose). We identified that the extent of improvement in glucan and xylan yield using this catalyzed pretreatment approach was a function of pretreatment conditions that included H2O2 loading on biomass, catalyst concentration, solids concentration, and pretreatment duration. Based on these results, several important improvements in pretreatment and hydrolysis conditions were identified that may have a positive economic impact for a process employing a catalyzed oxidative pretreatment. These improvements include identifying that: (1) substantially lower H2O2 loadings can be used that may result in up to a 50-65% decrease in H2O2 application (from 100 mg H2O2/g biomass to 35-50 mg/g) with only minor losses in glucose and xylose yield, (2) a 60% decrease in the catalyst concentration from 5.0 mM to 2.0 mM (corresponding to a catalyst loading of 25 μmol/g biomass to 10 μmol/g biomass) can be achieved without a subsequent loss in glucose yield, (3) an order of magnitude improvement in the time required for pretreatment (minutes versus hours or days) can be realized using the catalyzed pretreatment approach, and (4) enzyme dosage can be reduced to less than 30 mg protein/g glucan and potentially further with only minor losses in glucose and xylose yields. In addition, we established that the reaction rate is improved in both catalyzed and uncatalyzed AHP pretreatment by increased solids concentrations.

CONCLUSIONS: This work explored the relationship between reaction conditions impacting a catalyzed oxidative pretreatment of woody biomass and identified that significant decreases in the H2O2, catalyst, and enzyme loading on the biomass as well as decreases in the pretreatment time could be realized with only minor losses in the subsequent sugar released enzymatically. Together these changes would have positive implications for the economics of a process based on this pretreatment approach.

Alternate JournalBiotechnol Biofuels
PubMed ID23971902
PubMed Central IDPMC3765420