Cellulosic ethanol has attracted a lot of attention because of its great benefits for social and environmental sustainability. The adverse properties of lignocellulosic biomass (ie low bulk density, fluffy / difficult to handle and easily contaminated by microbes) and problems related to biomass pretreatment (ie high energy consumption, difficulties with scale-up and low fermentability of pretreated biomass) largely impede the commercialization of cellulosic ethanol. To address these issues, we invented a novel pretreatment method that investigated the compaction of lignocellulosic biomass with alkaline chemicals (DLC) and DLC onto corn stover (CS). DLC-CS has a high density and longevity, preventing contamination and completely preserving the sugar, which makes biomass logistics much easier. DLC-CS showed a high enzymatic digestibility and a high fermentability after storage. DLC-CS containing calcium hydroxide gave 21.4 g of ethanol per 100 g of CS, which was further improved to 25.3 g of ethanol per 100 g of CS using a regular steam autoclave. An ethanol titer of 70.6 g L.-1 was achieved for the first time without washing or detoxifying the pretreated biomass. These promising results demonstrated the great potential of DLC pretreatment for the production of lignocellulosic biofuels.

Graphic summary: The compression of lignocellulose-containing biomass with alkaline pretreatment (DLC) releases highly fermentable sugars for bioethanol production from corn stalks

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