A technical and economic analysis of acid-catalyzed steam explosion and dilute sulfuric acid pretreatments using wheat straw or aspen wood chips

  • D. J. Schell
  • R. Torget
  • A. Power
  • P. J. Walter
  • K. Grohmann
  • N. D. Hinman
Session 1 Thermal, Chemical, and Biological processing


Lignocellulosic biomass is one of the most plentiful and potentially cheapest feedstocks for ethanol production. The cellulose component can be broken down into glucose by enzymes and then converted to ethanol by yeast. However, hydrolysis of cellulose to glucose is difficult, and some form of pretreatment is necessary to increase the susceptibility of cellulose to enzymatic attack. An analysis has been completed of two pretreatment options, dilute sulfuric acid hydrolysis and sulfur dioxide impregnated steam explosion, for two feedstocks, wheat straw and aspen wood chips. Detailed process flow sheets and material and energy balances were used to generate equipment cost information. A technical and economic analysis compared the two feedstocks for each of the two pretreatments. For the same pretreatment, sugars produced from aspen wood hydrolysis were cheaper because of the higher carbohydrate content of aspen, whereas dilute acid pretreatment is favored over acid-catalyzed steam explosion.

Index Entries

Pretreatment sulfuric acid steam explosion aspen wood wheat straw 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. J. Schell
    • 2
  • R. Torget
    • 2
  • A. Power
    • 1
    • 2
  • P. J. Walter
    • 2
  • K. Grohmann
    • 2
  • N. D. Hinman
    • 2
  1. 1.Associates, Inc.Boulder
  2. 2.Biotechnology Research Branch, Solar Fuels Research DivisionSolar Energy Research InstituteGolden

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