Background: Empty fruit bunch (EFB) has many advantages, including its abundance, the fact that it does not require collection, and its year-round availability as a feedstock for bioethanol production. But before the significant costs incurred in ethanol production from lignocellulosic biomass can be reduced, an efficient sugar fractionation technology has to be developed. To that end, in the present study, an NaOH-catalyzed steam pretreatment process was applied in order to produce ethanol from EFB more efficiently. Results: The EFB pretreatment conditions were optimized by application of certain pretreatment variables such as, the NaOH concentrations in the soaking step and, in the steam step, the temperature and time. The optimal conditions were determined by response surface methodology (RSM) to be 3% NaOH for soaking and 160?C, 11 min 20 sec for steam pretreatment. Under these conditions, the overall glucan recovery and enzymatic digestibility were both high: the glucan and xylan yields were 93% and 78%, respectively, and the enzymatic digestibility was 88.8% for 72 h using 40 FPU/g glucan. After simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF), the maximum ethanol yield and concentration were 0.88 and 29.4 g/l respectively. Conclusions: Delignification (>85%) of EFB was an important factor in enzymatic hydrolysis using CTec2. NaOH-catalyzed steam pretreatment, which can remove lignin efficiently and requires only a short reaction time, was proven to be an effective pretreatment technology for EFB. The ethanol yield obtained by SSF, the key parameter determining the economics of ethanol, was 18% (w/w), equivalent to 88% of the theoretical maximum yield, which is a better result than have been reported in the relevant previous studies. ? 2013 Choi et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Choi, W. I., Park, J. Y., Lee, J. P., Oh, Y. K., Park, Y. C., Kim, J. S., … Lee, J. S. (2013). Optimization of NaOH-catalyzed steam pretreatment of empty fruit bunch. Biotechnology for Biofuels, 6(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1754-6834-6-170