Chemical pretreatments of corn stover for enhancing enzymatic digestibility

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Corn stover, the most abundant agricultural residue in Hungary, is a potential raw material for the production of fuel ethanol as a result of its high content of carbohydrates, but a pretreatment is required for its efficient hydrolysis. In this article, we describe the results using various chemicals such as dilute H2SO4, HCl, and NaOH separately as well as consecutively under relative mild conditions (120°C, 1 h). Pretreatment with 5% H2SO4 or 5% HCl solubilized 85% of the hemicellulose fraction, but the enzymatic conversion of pretreated materials increased only two times compared to the untreated corn stover. Applying acidic pretreatment following a 1-d soaking in base achieved enzymatic conversion that was nearly the theoretical maximum (95.7%). Pretreatment with 10% NaOH decreased the lignin fraction >95%, increased the enzymatic conversion more than four times, and gave a 79.4% enzymatic conversion. However, by increasing the reaction time, the enzymatic degradability could also be increased significantly, using a less concentrated base. When the time of pretreatment was increased three times (0.5% NaOH at 120°C), the amount of total released sugars was 47.9 g from 100 g (dry matter) of untreated corn stover.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-87
Number of pages15
JournalApplied Biochemistry and Biotechnology - Part A Enzyme Engineering and Biotechnology
Publication statusPublished - May 11 2002



  • Biomass pretreatment
  • Corn stover
  • Enzymatic hydrolysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology

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