Upgrading the Hemicellulosic Fraction of Biomass into Biofuel

Abstract : Hemicelluloses are polymers composed mainly of C5 sugars (pentosans) . They constitute a significant part of lignocellulosic biomass (LCB), as they can be up to 30% of the total mass. The upgrading of the hemicellulosic components is thus a prerequisite for profitable biofuel production from LCB. When LCB undergoes acid pretreatment, the hemicellulose-derived fraction is mainly composed of monomeric pentoses (xylose, arabinose) and oligomeric pentoses both resulting from the thermo-chemical hydrolysis. The hemicellulosic fraction is not fermentable into ethanol by wild type strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Over the past 20 years, several groups have worked to genetically modify this yeast in order to render it capable offermenting pentose constituents. These efforts were met with varying degrees of success, especially in the case of industrial substrates. In this paper, we describe two other possible ways of using the hemicellulosic fraction, each of which may contribute to the economic viability of biofuel production from LCB. The first one is its use as a carbon substrate for the production of cellulases by Trichoderma reesei, since cellulases are needed for the enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulose. The second is the AcetoneButanol-Ethanol (ABE) fermentation using anaerobic bacteria of the genus Clostridium. The produced ABE mixture has very interesting fuel properties and can be directly blended with gasoline.
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F. Ben Chaabane, R. Marchal. Upgrading the Hemicellulosic Fraction of Biomass into Biofuel. Oil & Gas Science and Technology - Revue d'IFP Energies nouvelles, Institut Français du Pétrole, 2013, 68 (4), pp.663-680. ⟨10.2516/ogst/2012093⟩. ⟨hal-01936182⟩

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