Integrated Production of Biofuels and Succinic Acid from Biomass after Thermochemical Pretreatments

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The aim of this study was to develop an effective thermochemical method for treatment of industrial hemp, in order to increase its bioconversion to biofuels and bio-products. Industrial hemp was subjected to various thermochemical pretreatments using: alkaline (3 % NaOH), oxidative (3 % H2O2 at pH 11.5) and glycerol-based methods (70-90 % of glycerol, 1-3 % NaOH), prior to enzymatic hydrolysis with Cellic® CTec2/Cellic® HTec2 (15 FPU∙g−1 glucan). Innovative pretreatment with glycerol fraction (80 % glycerol content, 2 % NaOH, 12.5 % biomass loading) showed to be superior over commonly used alkaline and oxidative methods with respect to by-products generation and sugar losses. Integrated process of ethanol production from enriched cellulose fraction (172 kg EtOH∙Mg−1 of dry hemp) and succinic production from xylose-rich residue after ethanol fermentation (59 kg∙Mg−1 of dry hemp) allowed to convert about 97 % of sugars released (glucose and xylose) during enzymatic hydrolysis of pre-treated biomass. The present study showed that it is possible to replace 50 % of the costly yeast extract, used during succinic fermentation as nitrogen source, by alternative nitrogen source (rapeseed cakes) without significant deterioration of succinic yield. Pretreatment liquor after lignin precipitation (52 kg∙Mg−1 of biomass treated) exhibited a high biodegradability (92 %) and allowed to produce 420 m3 CH4/Mg VS). Results obtained in this study clearly document the possibility of biofuels (bioethanol, biogas) and bio-chemicals production from industrial hemp, in a biorefinery approach.

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