Wednesday, May 2, 2007 - 9:00 AM

Impact of surfactants on pretreatment of corn stover

Qing Qing, Nwe Su, Bin Yang, and Charles Wyman. University of California, Center for Environmental Research and Technology, 1084 Columbia Avenue, Riverside, CA 92507

Lignin in pretreated cellulosic biomass can non-productively adsorb cellulase, resulting in loss of a significant portion of this expensive protein.  In addition, lignin interferes with the path for cellulase action, slowing down hydrolysis.  Thus, the effectiveness of enzymatic hydrolysis of pretreated lignocellulosic biomass can be significantly enhanced if lignin is removed or modified before adding enzymes.  In this project, the effect of adding various surfactants was evaluated for the enzymatic digestibility of corn stover pretreated at 160-220C with and without sulfuric acid.  Compared with a water control, most of the surfactants reduced the hydrophobicity of the corn stover surface.  In addition, cellulase adsorption on pretreated solids was significantly reduced, apparently as a result of the interaction of the surfactants with lignin.  A mechanism will be presented to explain the observed impact of surfactants on performance.