Evaluation of the potential of fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium L.), European goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea L.), and common broom (Cytisus scoparius L.) stems in bioethanol production

Publish Year: 2020
Publisher:  Energy Science and Engineering, 2020, 8(9), 3244-3254
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M. Smuga-Kogut, D. Szymanowska, R. Markiewicz, T. Piskier, J. Kobus-Cisowska, J. Cielecka-Piontek, H. Schöne
One of the main goals of industrial biotechnology is to develop an effective method for ethanol production for fuel purposes using lignocellulosic biomass. Variability of lignocellulosic raw materials, selection of an effective method for the pretreatment of raw material, and selection of microorganisms with the ability to ferment not only hexoses but also pentoses and are moreover resistant to environmental stress generated by the products of lignocellulosic complex decomposition, are the challenges encountered in ethanol production. The use of agricultural wastelands and overgrowing plants that have little possibility of application in processes other than energy production seem to be an interesting alternative to conventional, but very often rather cultivation demanding energy crops. The aim of this study was to evaluate the possibility of using the stems of fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium L.), European goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea L.), and common broom (Cytisus scoparius L.) for ethanol production. The key elements studied were characteristics of the lignocellulosic complex structure, influence of the selected ionic liquids on the structural changes in biomass, and efficiency of enzymatic hydrolysis and ethanol fermentation processes. The results showed that under the assumed conditions the best effect was observed with the fireweed materials subjected to pretreatment with 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate and enzymatic hydrolysis with Viscozyme® preparation. The final concentration of ethanol obtained was 2.509 g L−1 with a yield of 92.3%. This was due to the highest share of cellulose (40.9%) in the whole lignocellulosic complex compared to other raw materials, which in combination with the selection of an appropriate ionic liquid and an enzymatic preparation, led to high bioprocess efficiency.

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