Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology

, Volume 162, Issue 7, pp 1847–1857 | Cite as

Ammonia Fiber Expansion (AFEX) Pretreatment, Enzymatic Hydrolysis, and Fermentation on Empty Palm Fruit Bunch Fiber (EPFBF) for Cellulosic Ethanol Production

  • Ming J. Lau
  • Ming W. LauEmail author
  • Christa Gunawan
  • Bruce E. Dale


Empty palm fruit bunch fiber (EPFBF), a readily available cellulosic biomass from palm processing facilities, is investigated as a potential carbohydrate source for cellulosic ethanol production. This feedstock was pretreated using ammonia fiber expansion (AFEX) and enzymatically hydrolyzed. The best tested AFEX conditions were at 135 °C, 45 min retention time, water to dry biomass loading of 1:1 (weight ratio), and ammonia to dry biomass loading of 1:1 (weight ratio). The particle size of the pretreated biomass was reduced post-AFEX. The optimized enzyme formulation consists of Accellerase (84 μL/g biomass), Multifect Xylanase (31 μL/g biomass), and Multifect Pectinase (24 μL/g biomass). This mixture achieved close to 90% of the total maximum yield within 72 h of enzymatic hydrolysis. Fermentation on the water extract of this biomass affirms that nutrients solely from the pretreated EPFBF can support yeast growth for complete glucose fermentation. These results suggest that AFEX-treated EPFBF can be used for cellulosic biofuels production because biomass recalcitrance has been overcome without reducing the fermentability of the pretreated materials.


Cellulosic ethanol Palm fiber AFEX Saccharomyces cerevisiae Biofuel Pretreatment 



This work was partially funded by the DOE Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (DOE BER Office of Science DE-FC02-07ER64494). We thank Genencor International and Novozymes North America for providing the enzyme complexes used in this work. The authors acknowledge Purdue University and Dr. Nancy Ho for granting access to strain 424A(LNH-ST). Thanks to Mr. Meng Seong Lai and Lenga Palm Oil Industries Sdn. Bhd. for coordinating and providing the palm fiber.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ming J. Lau
    • 1
  • Ming W. Lau
    • 2
    Email author
  • Christa Gunawan
    • 2
  • Bruce E. Dale
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials ScienceMichigan State UniversityLansingUSA
  2. 2.Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, DOE Great Lakes Bioenergy Research CenterMichigan State UniversityLansingUSA

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