Membrane separation of enzyme-converted biomass compounds: Recovery of xylose and production of gluconic acid as a value-added product

Sofie Thage Morthensen, Birgitte Zeuner, Anne S. Meyer, Henning Jørgensen, Manuel Pinelo*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The purpose of the present study was to assess the efficiency of enzyme-assisted nanofiltration for separation of xylose from glucose present in genuine biorefinery liquors obtained from hydrothermal pretreatment of wheat straw, corn stover and Miscanthus stalks. Glucose oxidase and catalase were used to convert the glucose contained in the liquors into gluconic acid, so xylose could be more easily recovered in the subsequent nanofiltration. Subjecting the biomass liquors to dilute acid treatment and centrifugation before the enzymatic reaction and filtration led to maximum biocatalytic performance of the membrane bioreactor (neglectable fouling and no enzyme activity loss) during five consecutive reaction-filtration cycles. The best separation factor of gluconic acid over xylose in the subsequent nanofiltration was 2.7, 2.5 and 2.2 for wheat straw, corn stover and Miscanthus stalks, respectively. All represented a significant improvement compared to the benchmark separation of xylose and glucose, in which case the separation factor was only 1.4. However, the higher ionic strength of the biomass liquors compared to the pure model solution probably led to a less negative zeta potential of the nanofiltration membrane, which significantly reduced the xylose purification performance as compared to the model system, for which the separation factor was 34.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSeparation and Purification Technology
Pages (from-to)73-80
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Membrane bioreactor
  • Biomass liquor
  • Glucose oxidase/catalase
  • Sugars
  • Low-pressure nanofiltration

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