Applied biochemistry and biotechnology

Potential of potassium hydroxide pretreatment of switchgrass for fermentable sugar production.

PMID 23274726


Chemical pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass has been extensively investigated for sugar generation and subsequent fuel production. Alkaline pretreatment has emerged as one of the popular chemical pretreatment methods, but most attempts thus far have utilized NaOH for the pretreatment process. This study aimed at investigating the potential of potassium hydroxide (KOH) as a viable alternative alkaline reagent for lignocellulosic pretreatment based on its different reactivity patterns compared to NaOH. Performer switchgrass was pretreated at KOH concentrations of 0.5-2% for varying treatment times of 6-48 h, 6-24 h, and 0.25-1 h at 21, 50, and 121 °C, respectively. The pretreatments resulted in the highest percent sugar retention of 99.26% at 0.5%, 21 °C, 12 h while delignification up to 55.4% was observed with 2% KOH, 121 °C, 1 h. Six pretreatment conditions were selected for subsequent enzymatic hydrolysis with Cellic CTec2® for sugar generation. The pretreatment condition of 0.5% KOH, 24 h, 21 °C was determined to be the most effective as it utilized the least amount of KOH while generating 582.4 mg sugar/g raw biomass for a corresponding percent carbohydrate conversion of 91.8%.