The yield of ethanol from oil palm empty fruit bunches (EFB) was increased on exploiting maleic acid pretreatment combined with fermentation of the pretreated whole slurry. The optimized conditions for pretreatment were to expose EFB to a high temperature (190°C) with 1 % (w/v) maleic acid for a short time duration (3 min ramping to the set temperature with no holding) in a microwave digester. An enzymatic digestibility of 60.9 % (based on theoretical glucose yield) was exhibited using pretreated and washed EFB after 48 h of hydrolysis. Simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) of the whole slurry of pretreated EFB for 48 h resulted in 61.3 % theoretical yield of ethanol based on the initial amount of glucan in untreated EFB. These results indicate that maleic acid is a suitable catalyst not requiring detoxification steps for whole slurry fermentation of EFB for ethanol production, thus improving the process economics. Also, the whole slurry fermentation can significantly increase the biomass utilization by converting sugar from both solid and liquid phases of the pretreated slurry.
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Acknowledgments This work was supported by grants from the Advanced Biomass R & D Center of Korea (2011-0031353) funded by Korean Government (MEST) and from the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (12128295500). A Korea University grant through the Institute of Biomedical Science and Food Safety at the Korea University Food Safety Hall is acknowledged.
- Maleic acid
- Oil palm empty fruit bunches
- Whole slurry fermentation
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