Various parameters affecting the overall conversion of lignocellulosics to ethanol were studied. Of prime importance in a lignocellulosics to ethanol process is the pretreatment of the woody biomass. We have found that high levels of hydrolysis (92%) can be achieved with material that was acid soaked prior to steam-explosion and water extracted after steam explosion. This hydrolysis was accomplished through a combined hydrolysis and fermentation technique which produced, under optimum conditions, a broth containing 2.3% ethanol. Optimum conditions for the combined hydrolysis and fermentation process were found to be a culture pH of 4.8, a hydrolysis temperature of 45C and a fermentation temperature of 37C. Yeast extract was found to be inhibitory to the action of the cellulases and was only added following the hydrolysis step.
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