AbstractThe production of value-added chemicals from the bioconversion of lignocellulose biomass has been considered a promising venture. In this study, microwave, alkali-pretreated empty fruit bunch (EFB) was used as the substrate, utilizing pelletized filamentous Rhizopus oryzae NRRL 395 and cellulolytic enzymes for lactic acid production in a fed-batch simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) process. Insoluble solids generally do not affect the SSF process until a certain concentration is exceeded. To achieve a high lactic acid concentration in the broth, a high solids loading was required to allow a higher rate of glucose conversion. However, the results revealed a decrease in the final lactic acid yield when running SSF at a massive insoluble solids level. High osmotic pressure in the medium led to poor cellular performance and caused the Rhizopus oryzae pellets to break down, affecting the lactic acid production. To improve the process performance, a fed-batch operation mode was used. The fed-batch operation was shown to facilitate higher lactic acid yield, compared with the SSF batch mode. Enzyme feeding, as well as substrate feeding, was also investigated as a means of enabling a higher dry matter content, with a high glucose conversion in SSF of cellulose-rich EFB.