High titer and yield ethanol production from undetoxified whole slurry of Douglas-fir forest residue using pH-profiling in SPORL
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Forest residue is one of the most cost-effective feedstock for biofuel production. It has relatively high bulk density and can be harvested year round, advantageous for reducing transportation cost and eliminating onsite storage. However, forest residues, especially those from softwood species, are highly recalcitrant to biochemical conversion. A severe pretreatment for removing this recalcitrance can result in increased sugar degradation to inhibitors and hence cause difficulties in fermentation at high solid loadings. Here, we presented high titer ethanol production from Douglas-fir forest residue without detoxification. The strong recalcitrance of the Douglas-fir residue was removed by sulfite pretreatment to overcome the recalcitrance of lignocelluloses (SPORL). Sugar degradation to inhibitors was substantially reduced using a novel approach of “pH profiling” by delaying acid application in pretreatment, which facilitated the simultaneous enzymatic saccharification and fermentation of undetoxified whole slurry at a solid loading of 21%.