Furfural production from sugarcane bagasse along with co-production of ethanol from furfural residues


Cellulosic ethanol production from non-detoxified furfural residues produced at different operating conditions from sugarcane bagasse was investigated. Simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) technique and preconditioned industrial strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, i.e., EthanolRed® and CelluX™4, were used for fermentation. The highest furfural yield of 69% (11.44 g/100 g of dry bagasse) was achieved at 170 °C and 0.5 wt.% H2SO4 (170–200 °C and 0–1 wt.% H2SO4), with corresponding ethanol yields of 77–95% (9.57–11.58 g/100 g of dry bagasse). The mass of ethanol produced reflected conversion of about 50% of cellulose in raw biomass due to cellulose degradation during furfural production. No production conditions could be found where both furfural and ethanol yields were maximized, indicating an unavoidable compromise between the two co-products. Furfural production conditions that provided an acceptable compromise between furfural and ethanol during co-production from sugarcane bagasse were 170 °C and 0.25 wt.% H2SO4, resulting in furfural mass of 7.64 g/100 g of dry bagasse and ethanol mass of 9.86 and 10.91 g/100 g of dry bagasse when using EthanolRed® and CelluX™4, respectively.

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We thank the National Research Foundation (South Africa) and Sugar Milling Research Institute for the support. The Sugarcane Technology Enabling Programme for Bioenergy (STEP-Bio), a public-private partnership between the South African sugarcane processing industry and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) Sector Innovation Fund (SIF), is acknowledged for the partial support. We extend our gratitude to Novozymes for providing us with enzymes, Lesaffre (Leaf Technologies, France) for providing us with yeast strains, Sezela Illovo for providing us with furfural residues and technical advice, and RCL for providing us with furfural residues. Finally yet importantly, we also thank the Analytical Lab team of the Department of Process Engineering, Stellenbosch University.

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Ntimbani, R.N., Farzad, S. & Görgens, J.F. Furfural production from sugarcane bagasse along with co-production of ethanol from furfural residues. Biomass Conv. Bioref. (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13399-021-01313-3

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  • Furfural
  • Ethanol
  • Fermentation
  • Yeast inhibition
  • Sugarcane bagasse
  • Lignocellulose