Two-stage alkaline and acid pretreatment applied to sugarcane bagasse to enrich the cellulosic fraction and improve enzymatic digestibility
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Sugarcane bagasse (SB) is made up of cellulose (32-43%), hemicellulose (19-34%) and lignin (14-30%). Due to high recalcitrant nature of SB, pretreatment is required to deconstruct its structure and enrich the cellulosic fraction. A two-stage NaOH and maleic acid pretreatment was applied to SB to enrich its cellulosic fraction. SB used in the present study is composed of cellulose (40.4 wt%), hemicellulose (20.9 wt%), lignin (22.5 wt%) and ash (4.0 wt%). After one-stage NaOH pretreatment, its cellulosic fraction increased to 61.8 wt% and later increased to 80.1 wt% after the second-stage acid pretreatment. Lignin fraction decreased to 3.0 wt% after one-stage NaOH pretreatment and remained unaffected after the acid pretreatment step. Hemicellulose fraction decreased substantially after the second-stage pretreatment with maleic acid. Pretreated SB displayed high crystallinity index and improved enzy-matic digestibility. Hydrolysates of pretreated SB contained very low amount of xy-lose and subsequent fermentation by Saccharomyces cerevisiae-IQAr/45-1 resulted to ethanol level of 8.94 g/L. Maximal ethanol yield of 0.49 g/g (95.8% of theoretical yield) and productivity of 0.28 g/L/h was attained. At the same time, biomass yield and productivity of 0.47 g/g and 0.27 g/L/h respectively were obtained. Two-stage NaOH and maleic acid pretreatment led to ~ two-fold increase in cellulosic fraction and enhanced the enzymatic digestibility of SB up to 70.4%. The resulted enzymatic hydrolysate was efficiently utilized by S. cerevisiae-IQAr/45-1 to produce high yield of ethanol. Thus, optimization of enzymatic hydrolysis at low enzyme loading is ex-pected to further improve the process and reduce cost.