Microaeration (injecting air into the headspace) improved the fermentation of hemicellulose hydrolysates obtained from the phosphoric acid pretreatment of sugarcane bagasse at 170°C for 10 min. In addition, with 10% slurries of phosphoric acid pretreated bagasse (180°C, 10 min), air injection into the headspace promoted xylose utilization and increased ethanol yields from 0.16 to 0.20 g ethanol/g bagasse dry weight using a liquefaction plus simultaneous saccharification and co-fermentation process (L+SScF). This process was scaled up to 80 L using slurries of acid pretreated bagasse (96 h incubation; 0.6L of air/min into the headspace) with ethanol yields of 312-347 L (82-92 gal) per tone (dry matter), corresponding to 0.25 and 0.27 g/g bagasse (dry weight). Injection of small amounts of air into the headspace may provide a convenient alternative to subsurface sparging that avoids problems of foaming, sparger hygiene, flotation of particulates, and phase separation.
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