Ethanol from woodCellulase enzyme production

Abstract: Conversion of biomass to liquid fuels, such as ethanol, has been investigated during the past decades. First due to the oil crisis of the 1970s and lately because of concerns about greenhouse effect, ethanol has been found to be a suitable substitute for gasoline in transportation. Although ethanol is produced in large quantities from corn starch, the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to ethanol is rather problematic. However, cellulosic raw materials are important as they are available in large quantities from agriculture and forestry. One of the most extensively investigated processes is the enzymatic process, in which fungal cellulolytic enzymes are used to convert the cellulose content of the biomass to glucose, which is then fermented to ethanol. In order to make the raw material accessible to biological attack, it has to be pretreated first. The most successful method, which has been evaluated for various lignocellulosic materials, is the steam pretreatment. In this thesis the utilization of steam pretreated willow (hardwood) and spruce (softwood) was examined for enzyme production using a filamentous fungus T. reesei RUT C30. Various carbon sources originating from the steam pretreated materials have been investigated. The replacement of the solid carbon source with a liquid carbon source, as well as the effect of pH, was studied. The effect of toxic compounds generated during pretreatment was also examined. Comparative study of softwood and hardwood showed that steam pretreated hardwood is a better carbon source than softwood. The hydrolytic potential of enzyme solutions produced on wood derived carbon sources was better compared to commercial cellulases. Also enzyme solutions produced on steam pretreated spruce showed less sensitivity towards toxic compounds formed during steam pretreatment.

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