The current “state-of-art” dilute acid pretreatment to produce bio-ethanol from corn stover requires severe conditions to overcome biomass recalcitrance, which, in turn, offers 70~80% xylose monomer yield and 5~7% furfural yield. However, high acid loadings and high reaction temperatures harm the economic feasibility of the process. In addition, the amount of acetate and furfural produced during pretreatment is in a range that strongly inhibits cell growth and impedes ethanol fermentation. To decrease the impact of these issues, deacetylation, pretreatment with lower acid concentrations, lower temperatures, and integration of disc-refining was carried out in this work. The results show that deacetylation with dilute NaOH (0.1M) combined with low severitydilute-acid pretreatment increased corn stover reactivity by increasing the xylose monomer yield by 20% in pretreatment while degradation of xylan to furfural remained under 2%. Glucose yield increased by 10% and xylose yield by 20% during dilute solids enzymatic hydrolysis as a result of deacetylation of the feedstock prior to pretreatment. Particle size reduction by mechanical refining after pretreatment is shown to assist achieving> 90% cellulose yield in high solids (20 wt% total solids) enzymatic hydrolysis. Bioscreen C growth assays and mini fermentation at high solids (20wt%) showed less toxicity of deacetylated pretreated corn stover and enhanced xylose utilization by 20%.
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