Background: In the sugarcane industry, large amounts of lignocellulosic residues are generated, which includes bagasse, straw, and tops. The use of the whole sugarcane lignocellulosic biomass for the production of second-generation (2G) ethanol can be a potential alternative to contribute to the economic viability of this process. Here, we conducted a systematic comparative study of the use of the lignocellulosic residues from the whole sugarcane lignocellulosic biomass (bagasse, straw, and tops) from commercial sugarcane varieties for the production of 2G ethanol. In addition, the feasibility of using a mixture of these residues from a selected variety was also investigated. Results: The materials were pretreated with dilute acid and hydrolyzed with a commercial enzymatic preparation, after which the hydrolysates were fermented using an industrial strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The susceptibility to enzymatic saccharification was higher for the tops, followed by straw and bagasse. Interestingly, the fermentability of the hydrolysates showed a different profile, with straw achieving the highest ethanol yields, followed by tops and bagasse. Using a mixture of the different sugarcane parts (bagasse-straw-tops, 1:1:1, in a dry-weight basis), it was possible to achieve a 55% higher enzymatic conversion and a 25% higher ethanol yield, compared to use of the bagasse alone. For the four commercial sugarcane varieties evaluated using the same experimental set of conditions, it was found that the variety of sugarcane was not a significant factor in the 2G ethanol production process. Conclusions: Assessment of use of the whole lignocellulosic sugarcane biomass clearly showed that 2G ethanol production could be significantly improved by the combined use of bagasse, straw, and tops, when compared to the use of bagasse alone. The lower susceptibility to saccharification of sugarcane bagasse, as well as the lower fermentability of its hydrolysates, can be compensated by using it in combination with straw and tops (sugarcane trash). Furthermore, given that the variety was not a significant factor for the 2G ethanol production process within the four commercial sugarcane varieties evaluated here, agronomic features such as higher productivity and tolerance of soil and climate variations can be used as the criteria for variety selection.
Pereira, S. C., Maehara, L., Machado, C. M. M., & Farinas, C. S. (2015). 2G ethanol from the whole sugarcane lignocellulosic biomass. Biotechnology for Biofuels, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13068-015-0224-0