Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Improvement of acetone, butanol, and ethanol production from woody biomass using organosolv pretreatment

  • 742 Accesses

  • 40 Citations


A suitable pretreatment is a prerequisite of efficient acetone–butanol–ethanol (ABE) production from wood by Clostridia. In this study, organosolv fractionation, an effective pretreatment with ability to separate lignin as a co-product, was evaluated for ABE production from softwood pine and hardwood elm. ABE production from untreated woods was limited to the yield of 81 g ABE/kg wood and concentration of 5.5 g ABE/L. Thus, the woods were pretreated with aqueous ethanol at elevated temperatures before hydrolysis and fermentation to ABE by Clostridium acetobutylicum. Hydrolysis of pine and elm pretreated at 180 °C for 60 min resulted in the highest sugar concentrations of 16.8 and 23.2 g/L, respectively. The hydrolysate obtained from elm was fermented to ABE with the highest yield of 121.1 g/kg and concentration of 11.6 g/L. The maximum yield of 87.9 g/kg was obtained from pine pretreated for 30 min at 150 °C. Moreover, structural modifications in the woods were investigated and related to the improvements. The woody biomasses are suitable feedstocks for ABE production after the organosolv pretreatment. Effects of the pretreatment conditions on ABE production might be related to the reduced cellulose crystallinity, reduced lignin and hemicellulose content, and lower total phenolic compounds in the hydrolysates.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4


  1. 1.

    Karimi K, Chisti Y (2015) Future of bioethanol. Biofuel Res J 2:147

  2. 2.

    Kumar M, Gayen K (2011) Developments in biobutanol production: new insights. Appl Energy 88:1999–2012

  3. 3.

    TF Du, He AY, Wu H, JN Chen, XP Kong, JL Liu, Jiang M, Ouyang PK (2013) Butanol production from acid hydrolyzed corn fiber with Clostridium beijerinckii mutant. Bioresour Technol 135:254–261

  4. 4.

    Qureshi N, Saha BC, Hector RE, Dien B, Hughes S, Liu S, Iten L, Bowman MJ, Sarath G, Cotta MA (2010) Production of butanol (a biofuel) from agricultural residues: part II-use of corn stover and switchgrass hydrolysates. Biomass Bioenergy 34:566–571

  5. 5.

    Zhang Y, Hou T, Li B, Liu C, Mu X, Wang H (2014) Acetone–butanol–ethanol production from corn stover pretreated by alkaline twin-screw extrusion pretreatment. Bioprocess Biosyst Eng 37:913–921

  6. 6.

    Cai D, Zhang T, Zheng J, Chang Z, Wang Z, PY Qin, TW Tan (2013) Biobutanol from sweet sorghum bagasse hydrolysate by a hybrid pervaporation process. Bioresour Technol 145:97–102

  7. 7.

    Moradi F, Amiri H, Soleimanian-Zad S, Ehsani MR, Karimi K (2013) Improvement of acetone, butanol and ethanol production from rice straw by acid and alkaline pretreatments. Fuel 112:8–13

  8. 8.

    Amiri H, Karimi K, Zilouei H (2014) Organosolv pretreatment of rice straw for efficient acetone, butanol, and ethanol production. Bioresour Technol 152:450–456

  9. 9.

    Sedjo RA, Sohngen B (2013) Wood as a major feedstock for biofuel production in the united states: impacts on forests and international trade. J Sustainable For 32:195–211

  10. 10.

    Zhu JY, Pan XJ (2010) Woody biomass pretreatment for cellulosic ethanol production: technology and energy consumption evaluation. Bioresour Technol 101:4992–5002

  11. 11.

    Taherzadeh MJ, Karimi K (2008) Pretreatment of lignocellulosic wastes to improve ethanol and biogas production: a review. Int J Mol Sci 9:1621–1651

  12. 12.

    Ezeji T, Qureshi N, Blaschek HP (2007) Butanol production from agricultural residues: impact of degradation products on Clostridium beijerinckii growth and butanol fermentation. Biotechnol Bioeng 97:1460–1469

  13. 13.

    Karimi K, Shafiei M, Kumar R (2013) Progress in physical and chemical pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass. In: Gupta VK, Tuohy MG (eds) Biofuel technologies: recent developments. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, pp 53–96

  14. 14.

    Pan X, Arato C, Gilkes N, Gregg D, Mabee W, Pye K, Xiao Z, Zhang X, Saddler J (2005) Biorefining of softwoods using ethanol organosolv pulping: preliminary evaluation of process streams for manufacture of fuel-grade ethanol and co-products. Biotechnol Bioeng 90:473–481

  15. 15.

    Wang L, Chen H (2011) Increased fermentability of enzymatically hydrolyzed steam-exploded corn stover for butanol production by removal of fermentation inhibitors. Process Biochem 46:604–607

  16. 16.

    Zhao X, Cheng K, Liu D (2009) Organosolv pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass for enzymatic hydrolysis. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 82:815–827

  17. 17.

    Adney B, Baker J (1996) Measurement of cellulase activities. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden

  18. 18.

    Ximenes EA, Felix CR, Ulhoa CJ (1996) Production of cellulases by Aspergillus fumigatus and characterization of one β-glucosidase. Curr Microbiol 32:119–123

  19. 19.

    Amiri H, Karimi K (2013) Efficient dilute-acid hydrolysis of cellulose using solvent pretreatment. Ind Eng Chem Res 52:11494–11501

  20. 20.

    Pan X, Gilkes N, Kadla J, Pye K, Saka S, Gregg D, Ehara K, Xie D, Lam D, Saddler J (2006) Bioconversion of hybrid poplar to ethanol and co-products using an organosolv fractionation process: optimization of process yields. Biotechnol Bioeng 94:851–861

  21. 21.

    Chum HL, Johnson DK, Black SK, Overend RP (1990) Pretreatment-catalyst effects and the combined severity parameter. Appl Biochem Biotechnol 24:1–14

  22. 22.

    Mesa L, González E, Cara C, González M, Castro E, Mussatto SI (2011) The effect of organosolv pretreatment variables on enzymatic hydrolysis of sugarcane bagasse. Chem Eng J 168:1157–1162

  23. 23.

    Pich A, Narberhaus F, Bahl H (1990) Induction of heat shock proteins during initiation of solvent formation in Clostridium acetobutylicum. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 33:697–704

  24. 24.

    Sluiter A, Hames B, Ruiz R, Scarlata C, Sluiter J, Templeton D, Crocker D (2008) Determination of structural carbohydrates and lignin in biomass. NREL/TP-510-42618, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO, USA

  25. 25.

    McDonald S, Prenzler PD, Antolovich M, Robards K (2001) Phenolic content and antioxidant activity of olive extracts. Food Chem 73:73–84

  26. 26.

    Sannigrahi P, Miller SJ, Ragauskas AJ (2010) Effects of organosolv pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis on cellulose structure and crystallinity in Loblolly pine. Carbohydr Res 345:965–970

  27. 27.

    Mäki-Arvela P, Salmi T, Holmbom B, Willför S, Murzin DY (2011) Synthesis of sugars by hydrolysis of hemicelluloses—a review. Chem Rev 111:5638–5666

  28. 28.

    Kim ES, Liu S, Abu-Omar MM, Mosier NS (2012) Selective conversion of biomass hemicellulose to furfural using maleic acid with microwave heating. Energy Fuels 26:1298–1304

  29. 29.

    Petrou EC, Pappis CP (2009) Biofuels: a survey on pros and cons. Energy Fuels 23:1055–1066

  30. 30.

    Godin B, Lamaudière SP, Agneessens R, Schmit T, Goffart J-P, Stilmant D, Gerin PA, Delcarte J (2013) Chemical composition and biofuel potentials of a wide diversity of plant biomasses. Energy Fuels 27:2588–2598

  31. 31.

    Xu F, Yu J, Tesso T, Dowell F, Wang D (2013) Qualitative and quantitative analysis of lignocellulosic biomass using infrared techniques: a mini-review. Appl Energy 104:801–809

  32. 32.

    Ostovareh S, Karimi K, Zamani A (2015) Efficient conversion of sweet sorghum stalks to biogas and ethanol using organosolv pretreatment. Ind Crop Prod 66:170–177

  33. 33.

    Salehian P, Karimi K (2013) Alkali pretreatment for improvement of biogas and ethanol production from different waste parts of pine tree. Ind Eng Chem Res 52:972–978

  34. 34.

    Kaparaju P, Felby C (2010) Characterization of lignin during oxidative and hydrothermal pre-treatment processes of wheat straw and corn stover. Bioresour Technol 101:3175–3181

  35. 35.

    Li H, Pu Y, Kumar R, Ragauskas AJ, Wyman CE (2014) Investigation of lignin deposition on cellulose during hydrothermal pretreatment, its effect on cellulose hydrolysis, and underlying mechanisms. Biotechnol Bioeng 111:485–492

  36. 36.

    Xu Y, Li K, Zhang M (2007) Lignin precipitation on the pulp fibers in the ethanol-based organosolv pulping. Colloids Surf A Physicochem Eng Aspects 301:255–263

  37. 37.

    Evans P (1991) Differentiating “hard” from “soft” woods using Fourier transform infrared and Fourier transform spectroscopy. Spectrochim Acta Part A 47:1441–1447

  38. 38.

    Maddox I, Murray AE (1983) Production of n-butanol by fermentation of wood hydrolysate. Biotechnol Lett 5:175–178

  39. 39.

    Ewanick SM, Bura R, Saddler JN (2007) Acid-catalyzed steam pretreatment of lodgepole pine and subsequent enzymatic hydrolysis and fermentation to ethanol. Biotechnol Bioeng 98:737–746

  40. 40.

    Karimi K, Pandey A (2014) Current and future ABE processes. Biofuel Res J 3:77

  41. 41.

    Leonard R, Peterson W, Ritter G (1947) Butanol-acetone fermentation of wood sugar. Ind Eng Chem 39:1443–1445

  42. 42.

    Shah M, Song S, Lee Y, Torget R (1991) Effect of pretreatment on simultaneous saccharification and fermentation of hardwood into acetone/butanol. Appl Biochem Biotechnol 28:99–109

  43. 43.

    Wang B, Ezeji T, Shi Z, Feng H, Blaschek H (2009) Pretreatment and conversion of distiller’s dried grains with solubles for acetone–butanol–ethanol (ABE) production. Trans ASABE 52:885–892

Download references


The authors are grateful to the Institute of Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Isfahan University of Technology for financial support.

Author information

Correspondence to Keikhosro Karimi.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Amiri, H., Karimi, K. Improvement of acetone, butanol, and ethanol production from woody biomass using organosolv pretreatment. Bioprocess Biosyst Eng 38, 1959–1972 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00449-015-1437-0

Download citation


  • ABE fermentation
  • Butanol
  • Woody biomass
  • Pine
  • Elm
  • Organosolv pretreatment