(641f) Secondary Thermochemical Xylo-Oligomer Hydrolysis of High-Solids Dilute-Acid Pretreatment Slurries

Kuhn, E. M. - Presenter, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Shekiro, J. - Presenter, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Nagle, N. J. - Presenter, National Renewable Energy Lab
Elander, R. T. - Presenter, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Dilute-acid pretreatment is a critical step in the biochemical conversion of biomass to fuels and chemicals, releasing hemicellulose as oligomeric and monomeric xylose and rendering the cellulose fraction readily digestible by enzymes. It has been difficult to achieve very high yields of monomeric xylose during pretreatment, since acid hydrolysis also converts xylan to various oligomers and non-fermentable sugar degradation products. An alternative strategy for the production of high yields of monomeric xylose is to perform secondary thermochemical hydrolysis on the dilute-acid pretreated material. This secondary hydrolysis, typically performed at lower temperatures than the primary dilute-acid pretreatment step, liberates additional monomeric xylose while minimizing the yield of sugar degradation products. This work presents the results of laboratory and pilot scale primary and secondary thermochemical hydrolysis experiments over a wide range of conditions. Our results suggest that reduced severity conditions for primary dilute-acid pretreatment provide the highest overall yields of monomeric xylose after secondary thermochemical hydrolysis for the conditions tested. The results of our LC-MS investigations suggest that higher-molecular weight xylo-oligomers are converted to xylose during secondary thermochemical hydrolysis, but that a small fraction of the xylan in corn stover is converted to stable but non-fermentable compounds, such as xylo-oligomers, during both primary and secondary hydrolysis.