Acid hydrolysis of lignocellulose to hydrolysates intended for production of fuel ethanol results in the formation of byproducts in addition to fermentable sugars. Some of the byproducts, such as phenolic compounds and furan aldehydes, are inhibitory to the fermenting microorganism. Detoxification of the hydrolysates may be necessary for production of ethanol at a satisfactory rate and yield. The lignin residue obtained after hydrolysis is a material with hydrophobic properties that is produced in large amounts as a byproduct within an ethanol production process based on lignocellulosic raw materials. We have explored the possibility of using this lignin residue for detoxification of spruce dilute-acid hydrolysates prior to fermentation with Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Three dilute-acid hydrolysates of spruce were treated with lignin residue, which in all cases resulted in improved fermentability in terms of productivity and yield of ethanol. The effect was improved by washing the lignin before treatment, by using larger amounts of lignin in the treatment, and by performing the treatment at low temperature. Treatment with the lignin residue removed up to 53% of the phenolic compounds and up to 68% of the furan aldehydes in a spruce dilute-acid hydrolysate. A larger fraction of furfural was removed compared to the less hydrophobic 5-hydroxymethylfurfural.
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