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Impact of Pretreatment Technologies on Saccharification and Isopentenol Fermentation of Mixed Lignocellulosic Feedstocks

  • Author(s): Shi, J
  • George, KW
  • Sun, N
  • He, W
  • Li, C
  • Stavila, V
  • Keasling, JD
  • Simmons, BA
  • Lee, TS
  • Singh, S
  • et al.

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In order to enable the large-scale production of biofuels or chemicals from lignocellulosic biomass, a consistent and affordable year-round supply of lignocellulosic feedstocks is essential. Feedstock blending and/or densification offers one promising solution to overcome current challenges on biomass supply, i.e., low energy and bulk densities and significant compositional variations. Therefore, it is imperative to develop conversion technologies that can process mixed pelleted biomass feedstocks with minimal negative impact in terms of overall performance of the relevant biorefinery unit operations: pretreatment, fermentable sugar production, and fuel titers. We processed the mixture of four feedstocks—corn stover, switchgrass, lodgepole pine, and eucalyptus (1:1:1:1 on dry weight basis)—in flour and pellet form using ionic liquid (IL) 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate, dilute sulfuric acid (DA), and soaking in aqueous ammonia (SAA) pretreatments. Commercial enzyme mixtures, including cellulases and hemicellulases, were then applied to these pretreated feedstocks at low to moderate enzyme loadings to determine hydrolysis efficiency. Results show significant variations on the chemical composition, crystallinity, and enzymatic digestibility of the pretreated feedstocks across the different pretreatment technologies studied. The advanced biofuel isopentenol was produced during simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) of pretreated feedstocks using an engineered Escherichia coli strain. Results show that IL pretreatment liberates the most sugar during enzymatic saccharification, and in turn led to the highest isopentenol titer as compared to DA and SAA pretreatments. This study provides insights on developing biorefinery technologies that produce advanced biofuels based on mixed feedstock streams.

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