Abstract

Liquid hot water (LHW) pretreatment is an efficient chemical-free strategy for enhancing enzymatic digestibility of lignocellulosic biomass for conversion to fuels and chemicals in biorefinery. In this study, effects of LHW on removals of hemicelluloses and lignin from corncobs were studied under varying reaction conditions. LHW pretreatment at 160 °C for 10 min promoted the highest levels of hemicellulose solubilization into the liquid phase, resulting into the maximized pentose yield of 58.8% in the liquid and more than 60% removal of lignin from the solid, with 73.1% glucose recovery from enzymatic hydrolysis of the pretreated biomass using 10 FPU/g Celluclast™. This led to the maximal glucose and pentose recoveries of 81.9 and 71.2%, respectively, when combining sugars from the liquid phase from LHW and hydrolysis of the solid. Scanning electron microscopy revealed disruption of the intact biomass structure allowing increasing enzyme’s accessibility to the cellulose microfibers which showed higher crystallinity index compared to the native biomass as shown by x-ray diffraction with a marked increase in surface area as revealed by BET measurement. The work provides an insight into effects of LHW on modification of physicochemical properties of corncobs and an efficient approach for its processing in biorefinery industry.



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