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Removal of phenolic inhibitors from pretreated sugarcane bagasse for enhanced enzymatic recovery of fermentable sugars

Ali Nawaz, Ikram ul Haq and Hamid Mukhtar

Phenolic inhibitory compounds are produced during an essential pre-treatment process carried out for removal of lignin from biomass for making the cellulose and hemicelluloses accessible to cellulases. Phenolic compounds produced, acts as cellulase inhibitors, make the process of biomass conversion in to biofuels less efficient and economical. Keeping in mind this challenge, a strategy was designed to remove the phenolic compounds from pre-treated sugarcane bagasse to evaluate its effect on saccharification rate. The pretreated sugarcane bagasse sample having phenolic compounds, considered as control, showed 19±0.04% of saccharification and Total Phenolic Content (TPC) as 254.71±0.10 mg Gallic Acid Equivalent /gram of Dry Weight of biomass. Removal of phenolic compounds was carried out by treating with organic solvents (Isopropanaol, acetone and methanol) and Alkalis i.e. Sodium hydroxide and calcium hydroxide. It was observed that overliming resulted in the better removal of phenolic compounds (Residual TPC = 154.06±0.02 mg GAE/g DW) as compared to Na(OH) and organic solvents  employing 30 min incubation time at 60°C. Overliming using Ca(OH)2 solution of pH 12, for 120mins at 75°C showed significant removal of phenolic compounds (119.43±0.09 mg GAE/g DW) and enhanced saccharification by almost 2.21 folds (42.06±0.07%). This removal of toxic phenolic componds will enhance the saccharification yield and substrate efficient recovery of fermentable saccahrides for economical and feasible biofuel production

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