Pretreating lignocellulosic biomass for cellulosic ethanol production in a West African setting requires smaller scale and less capital expenditure compared to current state of the art. In the present study, three low-tech methods applicable for West African conditions, namely Boiling Pretreatment (BP), Soaking in Aqueous Ammonia (SAA) and White Rot Fungi pretreatment (WRF), were compared to the high-tech solution of hydrothermal pretreatment (HTT). The pretreatment methods were tested on 11 West African biomasses, i.e. cassava stalks, plantain peelings, plantain trunks, plantain leaves, cocoa husks, cocoa pods, maize cobs, maize stalks, rice straw, groundnut straw and oil palm empty fruit bunches. It was found that four biomass’ (plantain peelings, plantain trunks, maize cobs and maize stalks) were most promising for production of cellulosic ethanol with profitable enzymatic conversion of glucan (>30 g glucan per 100 g total solids (TS)). HTT did show better results in both enzymatic convertibility and fermentation, but evaluated on the overall ethanol yield the low-tech pretreatment methods are viable alternatives with similar levels to the HTT (13.4–15.2 g ethanol per 100 g TS raw material).
- Cellulosic ethanol
- West Africa