Thermophilic ethanol fermentation of wet-exploded wheat straw hydrolysate was investigated in a continuous immobilized reactor system. The experiments were carried out in a lab-scale fluidized bed reactor (FBR) at 70C. Undetoxified wheat straw hydrolysate was used (3-12% dry matter), corresponding to sugar mixtures of glucose and xylose ranging from 12 to 41 g/l. The organism, thermophilic anaerobic bacterium Thermoanaerobacter BG1L1, exhibited significant resistance to high levels of acetic acid (up to 10 g/l) and other metabolic inhibitors present in the hydrolysate. Although the hydrolysate was not detoxified, ethanol yield in a range of 0.39-0.42 g/g was obtained. Overall, sugar efficiency to ethanol was 68-76%. The reactor was operated continuously for approximately 143 days, and no contamination was seen without the use of any agent for preventing bacterial infections. The tested microorganism has considerable potential to be a novel candidate for lignocellulose bioconversion into ethanol. The work reported here also demonstrates that the use of FBR configuration might be a viable approach for thermophilic anaerobic ethanol fermentation.
- fluidized bed reactor
- wheat straw
- thermophilic anaerobic bacteria