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Gonzalez, R., Jameel, H., Chang, H.-M., Treasure, T., Pirraglia, A., and Saloni, D. (2011). "Thermo-mechanical pulping as a pretreatment for agricultural biomass as biochemical conversion," BioRes. 6(2), 1599-1614.


The use of thermo-mechanical pulping (TMP), an existing and well known technology in the pulp and paper industry, is proposed as a potential pretreatment pathway of agriculture biomass for monomeric sugar production in preparation for further fermentation into alcohol species. Three agricultural biomass types, corn stover, wheat straw, and sweet sorghum bagasse, were pretreated in a TMP unit under two temperature conditions, 160 ºC and 170 ºC, and hydrolyzed using cellulase at 5, 10, and 20 FPU/g OD biomass. Wheat straw biomass was further pretreated at different conditions including: i) soaking with acetic acid, ii) longer steaming residence time (15 and 30 min), and iii) refined at lower disk gap (0.0508 and 0.1524 mm). Preliminary results showed that carbohydrate conversion increased from 25% to 40% when the TMP temperature was increased from 160 to 170 ºC. Carbohydrate conversion was relatively similar for the three biomasses under the same pretreatment conditions and enzyme loading. Acetic acid soaking and refining at a reduce disk gap increases carbohydrate conversion. Further studies within this technological field to identify optimum process and TMP conditions for pretreatment are suggested.
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