Valorization of Eucalyptus wood by glycerol-organosolv pretreatment within the biorefinery concept: An integrated and intensified approach

Highlights

Eucalyptus globulus wood (EGW) was fractionated by glycerol-organosolv process.

SEM, X-ray and crystallinity index show structural changes in pretreated EGW.

Organosolv lignin was characterized by FT-IR and TGA.

High solid loading (33% dry matter) was used for ethanol production.

High-gravity ethanol production 94 g/L from EGW biomass was obtained.

Abstract

The efficient utilization of lignocellulosic biomass and the reduction of production cost are mandatory to attain a cost-effective lignocellulose-to-ethanol process. The selection of suitable pretreatment that allows an effective fractionation of biomass and the use of pretreated material at high-solid loadings on saccharification and fermentation (SSF) processes are considered promising strategies for that purpose. Eucalyptus globulus wood was fractionated by organosolv process at 200 °C for 69 min using 56% of glycerol-water. A 99% of cellulose remained in pretreated biomass and 65% of lignin was solubilized. Precipitated lignin was characterized for chemical composition and thermal behavior, showing similar features to commercial lignin. In order to produce lignocellulosic ethanol at high-gravity, a full factory design was carried to assess the liquid to solid ratio (3–9 g/g) and enzyme to solid ratio (8–16 FPU/g) on SSF of delignified Eucalyptus. High ethanol concentration (94 g/L) corresponding to 77% of conversion at 16FPU/g and LSR = 3 g/g using an industrial and thermotolerant Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain was successfully produced from pretreated biomass. Process integration of a suitable pretreatment, which allows for whole biomass valorization, with intensified saccharification-fermentation stages was shown to be feasible strategy for the co-production of high ethanol titers, oligosaccharides and lignin paving the way for cost-effective Eucalyptus biorefinery.

Keywords

  • High-gravity ethanol;
  • Organosolv pretreatment;
  • Lignocellulosic biomass;
  • Lignin characterization;
  • Biorefinery;
  • Industrial strain

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