Waste and Biomass Valorization

, Volume 10, Issue 10, pp 3009–3023 | Cite as

Combination of Superheated Steam Explosion and Alkaline Autoclaving Pretreatment for Improvement of Enzymatic Digestibility of the Oil Palm Tree Residues as Alternative Sugar Sources

  • Tanya Thamsee
  • Saovanee Choojit
  • Benjamas Cheirsilp
  • Ram Yamseangsung
  • Taweesak Ruengpeerakul
  • Chayanoot SangwichienEmail author
Original Paper


Pretreatment processes play an important role in the conversion of lignocelluloses materials to reducing sugar for ethanol production. They help in breaking the structure of lignin and disrupt the crystalline structure of cellulose and hemicellulose, thus improving enzymatic accessibility during hydrolysis. In this study, various alternatives to pretreat oil palm empty fruit bunches (OPEFB), oil palm frond (OPF) and oil palm trunk (OPT) were investigated for improving enzymatic digestibility and fermentable sugars production. The most suitable method was superheated steam explosion followed by alkaline autoclaving pretreatment (SSE–AA). The superheated steam explosion was performed at 180 °C and 0.6 MPa for 5 min (severity factor 3.05), followed by treating with 2–20% (w/v) NaOH at 121 °C for 10–60 min in an autoclave. The SSE–AA treated OPEFB, OPF and OPT had cellulose contents 73.1, 68.7 and 65.3%, respectively. In addition, the enzymatic digestibilities of the treated OPEFB, OPF and OPT pulps were 90.0, 85.15 and 68.73%, respectively, while their glucose yields were 0.90, 0.85 and 0.69 g/g, which were 13.43, 12.35 and 33.71 fold higher than with untreated pulps. Scanning electron microscopy showed that the SSE–AA pretreatment strongly disrupted the fiber structure by removing the cell wall, hydrolyzing both lignin and hemicelluloses, causing swelling and partial rupture of the fibers.

Graphical Abstract


Lignocellulose Empty fruit bunch Alkaline pretreatment Superheated steam explosion Biomass Agricultural residue 



This work was supported by the Prince of Songkla University (PSU) Graduate School Research Support Funding. We gratefully thank the Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, PSU for facilities and equipment. Also the PSU Research and Development Office (RDO) and Assoc. Prof. Seppo Karrila providing assistance in manuscript preparation. The second author received additional support from a Postdoctoral Fellowship by the Prince of Songkla University.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tanya Thamsee
    • 1
  • Saovanee Choojit
    • 1
  • Benjamas Cheirsilp
    • 2
  • Ram Yamseangsung
    • 2
  • Taweesak Ruengpeerakul
    • 3
  • Chayanoot Sangwichien
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of EngineeringPrince of Songkla UniversityHat YaiThailand
  2. 2.Biotechnology for Bioresource Utilization Laboratory, Faculty of Agro-IndustryPrince of Songkla UniversityHat YaiThailand
  3. 3.Department of Computer Engineering, Faculty of EngineeringPrince of Songkla UniversityHat YaiThailand

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