Bioethanol production from steam-pretreated corn stover through an isomerase mediated process

Isabella De Bari, Daniela Cuna, Vincenzo Di Matteo, Federico Liuzzi

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Agricultural by-products such as corn stover are considered strategic raw materials for the production of second-generation bioethanol from renewable and non-food sources. This paper describes the conversion of steam-pretreated corn stover to ethanol utilising a multi-step process including enzymatic hydrolysis, isomerisation, and fermentation of mixed hydrolysates with native Saccharomyces cerevisiae. An immobilised isomerase enzyme was used for the xylose isomerisation along with high concentrations of S. cerevisiae. The objective was to assess the extent of simultaneity of the various conversion steps, through a detailed analysis of process time courses, and to test this process scheme for the conversion of lignocellulosic hydrolysates containing several inhibitors of the isomerase enzyme (e.g. metal ions, xylitol and glycerol).The process was tested on two types of hydrolysate after acid-catalysed steam pretreatment: (a) the water soluble fraction (WSF) in which xylose was the largest carbon source and (b) the entire slurry, containing both cellulose and hemicellulose carbohydrates, in which glucose predominated.The results indicated that the ethanol concentration rose when the inoculum concentration was increased in the range 10-75g/L. However, when xylose was the largest carbon source, the metabolic yields were higher than 0.51gethanol/gconsumed sugarsprobably due to the use of yeast internal cellular resources. This phenomenon was not observed in the fermentation of mixed hydrolysates obtained from the entire pretreated product and in which glucose was the largest carbon source. The ethanol yield from biomass suspensions with dry matter (DM) concentrations of 11-12% (w/v) was 70% based on total sugars (glucose, xylose, galactose). The results suggest that xylulose uptake was more effective in mixed hydrolysates containing glucose levels similar to, or higher than, xylose.Analysis of the factors that limit isomerase activity in lignocellulosic hydrolysates excluded any inhibition due to residual calcium ions after the detoxification of the hemicellulose hydrolysates with Ca(OH)2. By contrast, most of the enzyme activity ceased during the fermentation of the entire slurry after steam explosion, probably due to synergistic inhibition effects of various fermentation co-products. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185 - 195
Number of pages11
JournalNew Biotechnology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2014


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Molecular Biology

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