Cellulase retention and sugar removal by membrane ultrafiltration during lignocellulosic biomass hydrolysis
Technologies suitable for the separation and reuse of cellulase enzymes during the enzymatic saccharification of pretreated corn stover are investigated to examine the economic and technical viability of processes that promote cellulase reuse while removing inhibitory reaction products such as glucose and cellobiose. The simplest and most suitable separation is a filter with relatively large pores on the order of 20–25 mm that retains residual corn stover solids while passing reaction products such as glucose and cellobiose to form a sugar stream for a variety of end uses. Such a simple separation is effective because cellulase remains bound to the residual solids. Ultrafiltration using 50-kDa polyethersulfone membranes to recover cellulase enzymes in solution was shown not to enhance further the saccharification rate or overall conversion. Instead, it appears that the necessary cellulase enzymes, including β-glucosidase, are tightly bound to the substrate; when fresh corn stover is contacted with highly washed residual solids, without the addition of fresh enzymes, glucose is generated at a high rate. When filtration was applied multiple times, the concentration of inhibitory reaction products such as glucose and cellobiose was reduced from 70 to 10 g/L. However, an enhanced saccharification performance was not observed, most likely because the concentration of the inhibitory products remained too high. Further reduction in the product concentration was not investigated, because it would make the reaction unnecessarily complex and result in a product stream that is much too dilute to be useful. Finally, an economic analysis shows that reuse of cellulase can reduce glucose production costs, especially when the enzyme price is high. The most economic performance is shown to occur when the cellulase enzyme is reused and a small amount of fresh enzyme is added after each separation step to replace lost or deactivated enzyme.
Index EntriesSaccharification corn stover cellulase glucose ultrafiltration vacuum filtration
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