Journal of Sustainable Bioenergy Systems, 2013, 3, 250-259
Published Online December 2013 (
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Hydrothermal Pretreatment of Lignocellulosic
Biomass and Kinetics
Hanwu Lei1*, Iwona Cybulska2, James Julson2
1Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory, Department of Biological Systems Engineering,
Washington State University, Richland, USA
2Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, South Dakota State University, Brookings, USA
Email: *
Received August 30, 2103; revised September 25, 2013; accepted October 16, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Hanwu Lei et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License,
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
The study focus was an examination of the hydrothermal pretreatment method applied to the lignocellulosic substrate,
represented by the prairie cord grass, and comparison between different conditions based on the yield of glucose after
enzymatic hydrolysis. The treatment did not involve any chemicals usage. Enzymatic hydrolysis was performed in order
to examine the amount of glucose which was released from pretreated materials. The most efficient pretreatment condi-
tions were at high temperature and relatively short reaction time (210˚C and 10 min), after which the lignocellulose
structure was the most available for enzymes actions which resulted in a pretreatment conversion rate of 97%. Tem-
perature had a significant influence on glucose release during the hydrolysis, which was confirmed by the Micha-
elis-Menten and kinetic models. Kinetic models were used to fit the inhibitors and their conversion rates were related
to temperature.
Keywords: Hydrothermal Pretreatment; Prairie Cord Grass; Enzymatic Hydrolysis; Kinetics
1. Introduction
As the only renewable resource to be converted to liquid
fuel, biomass has been recognized as one of the most
significant sustainable replacements for petroleum-based
fuels [1]. Lignocellulosic biomass provides a unique and
sustainable resource for environmentally friendly fuels
and chemicals. Biomass including wood, crop residues
and energy grass is enormous and renewable energy
source that can provide clean energy and help to reduce
the greenhouse gas emission [2]. The conversion of lig-
nocellulosic biomass to ethanol is considered one of the
most important uses of biomass as an energy source and
the conversion would serve a dual purpose because the
product is both a fuel and a potential chemical substrate
Cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin are three major
components of lignocellulosic biomass. In nature, cellu-
lose is usually associated with other polysaccharides such
as xylan and lignin. Cellulose is the skeletal basis of
plant cell walls [4]. Lignin is a highly cross-linked
phenylpropylene polymer [5]. Lignin plays an important
role in cell wall structure as a permanent bonding agent
among plant cells. Cellulose and hemicellulose are not
directly available for bioconversion because of their in-
timate association with lignin [6]. To increase the enzy-
matic digestibility of lignocellulosic biomass, biomass
has to be treated/degraded mechanically or chemically.
Hydrolysis of lignocellulose without any pretreatment
tends to achieve low efficiencies [7] due to structural
properties, such as lignin content, acetylated hemicellu-
lose, a limited surface area, and crystallinity [8]. The
treated biomass is then enzymatically hydrolyzed to sug-
ars by cellulase and hemicellulase. The resulting sugars
are subsequently fermented to ethanol by yeast fermenta-
tion [9].
There are a number of pretreatment methods applied to
lignocellulosic biomass under extensive research. Bio-
mass pretreatment is an appropriate first step of ligno-
cellulosics conversions to fuels and chemicals. Pretreat-
ment of lignocellulosic biomass is a common step to re-
move hemicelluloses and lignin, reduce cellulose crystal-
linity, and increase porosity of the lignocellulosic bio-
mass [10,11]. Without pretreatment, biomass digestibility
for enzymatic hydrolysis or microbial fermentation is
*Corresponding author.
H. W. LEI ET AL. 251
The search of an effective and economically feasible
lignocellulose pretreatment method constantly gains more
attention among the researchers. The pretreatment char-
acteristics should include: low cost, possibility to be used
in the industrial scale, effectiveness in a wide range of
lignocellulosic materials, minimum requirements of
preparation and handling prior to the process itself, com-
plete recovery of the lignocellulosic components in us-
able form, and providing a cellulose fraction possible to
be enzymatically converted into glucose at a high rate
[12-14]. There are a number of chemical treatments ap-
plied to lignocellulosic biomass, with good results of
cellulose conversion to glucose [12,15-17]. An alterna-
tive to chemicals usage in the lignocellulosic biomass
treatment is utilization of water at high temperatures,
without adding catalysts, which is considered as hydro-
thermal treatment [18]. Water at high temperatures
(~200˚C) has acidic pH, acting as a catalyst for the bio-
mass disruption [19], eliminating the need for a catalyst.
Research approaches have shown the merits of water
as a pretreating agent for lignocelluloses biomass. Bio-
mass pretreatment using hot water was recommended as
a clean and environmentally benign process [11]. It was
found that hydrothermal treatments maximized physical
changes and minimized hydrolysis of cellulose and there-
fore produced sugar degradation products during pre-
treatment, while making the pretreated cellulose highly
reactive for subsequent enzymatic hydrolysis to achieve
maximal glucose yield [13,19-21]. Physical changes by
hydro- thermal pretreatment that improve enzymatic hy-
drolysis of cellulose are well known and include an in-
crease in the pore size to enhance enzyme penetration,
and an increase in accessible cellulose by decreasing its
crystallinity and association with lignin [22-25].
Usage of water and high temperatures is a promising
alternative to utilization of chemicals (e.g. acid or base
hydrolyses) [26,27]. The hydrothermal pretreatment pro-
cess is considered as autohydrolysis of lignocellulosic
linkages in the presence of hydronium ions [H+] gener-
ated from water and acetic groups released from hemi-
celluloses [28]. H+ ions produced by water ionization act
as catalysts in higher concentrations at high temperatures
than in ambient liquid water providing an effective me-
dium for acid hydrolysis [28]. Also physical disruption of
the lignocellulose structure takes place, since high pres-
sures are involved; this results in decreased cristallinity
of cellulose as well as the degree of polymerization [29].
A number of lignocellulosic biomass were already ex-
amined as a potential feedstock for ethanol production
[30-34]. In this study, prairie cord grass (PCG) was ex-
amined as a representative of the herbaceous energy
crops. Its distribution is very wide, especially in South-
west and Southeast of U.S. as well as in South Dakota
and Canada. Prairie cord grass is a perennial grass, start-
ing its growth in the early spring. It can reach up to 3 m
tall, with leaves reaching a length of 80 cm. Because of
its coarseness, PCG is rarely used as animal feed. There-
fore using it in ethanol production is a way of utilizing its
large amounts produced every year. It contains a fair
amount of cellulose which makes it attractive as ethanol
feedstock [35]. The present study reports the effect of
hydrothermal pretreatment on PCG and enzymatic hy-
drolysis. Microscopic observations of changes in plant
cell structure are presented. These observations com-
bined with analyses of sugars released during the pre-
treatment and hydrolysis to give insights on enzyme me-
chanisms at an ultrastructural level.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Overall Experimental Procedure
Figure 1 shows the schematic of the experimental pro-
cedure. Prairie cord grass (PCG) was analyzed first to
test its composition. Prairie cord grass was pretreated
(cooked) with deionized (DI) water at different tempera-
tures and reaction times. Native and pretreated prairie
cord grass slurry was enzymatically hydrolyzed. Then
SEM pictures were taken for native (untreated) and pre-
treated PCG. At the same time, the liquid separated from
solid in each condition was filtered and analyzed by
2.2. Prepare Native Prairie Cord Grass
Prairie cord grass was harvested in Brookings, SD. USA.
Prior to the experiment, prairie cord grass was grinded
Figure 1. Experimental procedure.
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(Thomas-Wiley Laboratory Mill, Model 3375-E15, Tho-
mas Scientific, USA) to pass through 1 mm screen.
2.3. Compositional Analysis
Composition of prairie cord grass was analyzed by using
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) stan-
dard analysis procedures [36,37]; all monomer sugars
after acid hydrolysis were analyzed by HPLC (Agilent
HPLC 1200 Series) and then used to calculate polysac-
charide composition. The HPLC was operated at 65˚C
using 0.2 µm filtered 5 mM sulfuric acid as mobile phase
at a flow rate 0.6 mL/min. Standard curves were gener-
ated using glucose, cellobiose, xylose, arabinose, acetic
acid, xylitol, lactic acid, furfural, and hydroxymethyl
furfural (HMF) (Sigma-Aldrich Co. LLC, USA) in the
concentration ranges from 0 to 25 g/L to obtain correla-
tion numbers.
2.4. Hydrothermal Pretreatment
Deionized water (DI water) and 8% (w/w) dry matter
(DM) of biomass were placed in the jacket-heated Parr
reactor (HP/HT Pressure Reactor 4570, Parr Instrument
Company, Moline, IL. USA), with constant agitation and
control of the temperature and pressure. Based on pre-
liminary trials, particle size and DM load were observed
to be not significant on the sugar conversion yield.
Therefore particle size and solid concentration were
chosen to assure convenient handling of the material.
After pre-heating to the desired temperature (about 40
min), the reaction time was recorded and mixture was
cooled with cooling water using a refrigeration water
bath (Haake, Type 001-4637/193, Germany) for about 1 -
2 hour in order to achieve room temperature. The reac-
tion temperatures and time were given in Table 1. Cer-
tain losses of overall mass occurred during the process—
mainly due to material transfers. Decreased mass of the
solid fraction was a result of part of cellulose, hemicel-
lulose and lignin removal by dissolving in water. Total
overall weight loss during the process was between 2% -
In some other studies the hydrothermal pretreatment
process was applied with addition of a catalyst (e.g. po-
tassium hydroxide or sulphuric acid) in order to activate
the autohydrolysis [21]. However in this study, no extra-
neous chemical was added to the process, which elimi-
nates the need of subsequent chemical recovery.
After pretreatment, all the slurry in the reactor was
collected and processed for image analysis as described
below. The rest of the slurry in the tube continued to be
processed in the enzymatic hydrolysis step. Only a small
amount of solid (approximately 1 mg or less) was re-
quired in the SEM analysis.
2.5. Enzymatic Hydrolysis
The pulp was separated from liquid fraction by vacuum
filtration. The pH value of liquid fraction after the proc-
ess was in the range of 3.51 (after treatment at 210˚C and
10 min) to 4.67 (after treatment at 161.72˚C and 15 min).
The filtration cake was washed with approximately 300
mL of DI water, filtrated again, and stored in the freezer.
Liquid fraction was also kept in the freezer for further
Hydrolysis of the native and pretreated prairie cord
grass was performed according to NREL protocol [37].
The hydrolysis was conducted in 100 mL mixture con-
taining 3%·w/w dry matter content and monitored by
collecting 1.5mL sample after 0, 3, 6, 12, 24, 34, 48 and
72 h. Biomass was placed in the flasks with 0.1 M citric
buffer with pH 4.8 (50 mL) and DI water added to total
volume of 100 mL. Hydrolysis was performed using cel-
Table 1. Initial hydrolysis rate and dissociation c onstant for enzymatic hydrolysis of prairie cord grass.
Exp. Temperature [˚C] Time [min] Initial hydrolysis rate [g/L·h] Dissociation constant [g/L] (R2)
1 170 10 0.70 0.47 (0.87)
2 210 10 2.22 1.79 (0.98)
3 170 20 0.67 0.45 (0.87)
4 210 20 3.43 2.48 (0.99)
5 161.7 15 0.40 0.31 (0.82)
6 218.3 15 4.18 3.28 (0.97)
7 190 7.9 2.06 1.43 (0.96)
8 190 22.1 2.60 1.74 (0.87)
9 190 15 2.15 1.57 (0.95)
10 190 15 4.27 2.84 (0.84)
11 190 15 1.95 1.37 (0.95)
12 190 15 2.45 1.72 (0.92)
H. W. LEI ET AL. 253
lulase (Novozymes, NS50013) and β-glucosidase (No-
vozymes, NS50010), added in amounts 15 FPU/gDM
and 60 CBU/gDM respectively. Samples were then in-
cubated at 50˚C and shaken at 180 rpm in an Environ-
mental Incubator Shaker (New Brunswick Scientific CO.,
Inc., Edison, NJ). Hydrolysis was performed in dupli-
Concentrations of sugars and by-products were mea-
sured on High Performance Liquid Chromatography
(Agilent HPLC 1200 Series) instrument and samples
were prepared according to LAP 013 [38] and LAP 015
2.6. Scanning Electron Microscope Analysis
The type of instrument used was a Hitachi 3500 Scan-
ning Electron Microscope, operated at 30 kV, 33 mm.
Samples were prepared by mounting them on specimen
stubs using double-coated tape. Excess material was gen-
tly blown off before SEM measurement. The difference
in lignocellulosic structure of prairie cord grass before
and after the hydrothermal pretreatment was measured by
Scanning Electron Microscope. Low magnification pic-
tures were taken first to obtain the information on the
shape distribution of particles in the observation area.
Then a higher magnification was applied, focusing on
typical particle surfaces. The SEM images show how the
raw structure can be opened during the treatment which
enhanced surface area available for the enzymes. Pictures
were taken at 30.0 kV and magnifications between ×350
and ×2.3 k.
2.7. Conversion Analysis
In order to compare the efficiency among the pretreat-
ment conditions as well as the enzymatic hydrolysis itself
(to assess the availability of cellulose structure for en-
zymes), cellulose into glucose conversion rates was cal-
culated. Conversion rate represents the ratio of the
amount of glucose which can be recovered from the pre-
treated material to the amount of glucose in the material
fed to the process [30]. Glucose conversion was defined
as the percentage of cellulose pretreated or enzymatically
converted to glucose, which is based on glucose concen-
tration measured by HPLC and is calculated as follow-
Hydrolysis conver
cos 100%
Glueamountafter hydrolysis
Glue amount in raw material (1)
 
cos co
ment conversi
Glue insolidGlue infiltrate
Glueamountin raw material
2.8. Experimental Design
The pretreatment trials were based on central composite
experimental design (CCD) with application of statistical
software (Design Expert version The 22-facto-
rial central composite design with four replications at the
center point was used (Table 1) giving 12 experiments
overall. Kinetics equations were developed to describe
the relationship between independent variables and re-
sponse variables, such as concentration of glucose, acetic
acid, etc. The pretreatment process variables included
temperature (˚C) and time (min), and response variables
including conversion rates.
2.9. Kinetics Analysis
Kinetic modeling plays an important role in the design,
development, and operation of many chemical processes.
Kinetic data are also important in the design and evalua-
tion of processes to hydrolyze cellulosic materials to
glucose for fermentation into ethanol or a variety of other
chemical intermediates. During pretreatment polysaccha-
rides are being decomposed to oligomers and monomers,
while part of monomers (hexoses pyranosidic structures
and pentoses furanosidic structures) are converted into
hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and furfural. These com-
pounds are considered as inhibitors for the fermentation,
therefore should be controlled. Besides compounds men-
tioned above, several other by-products are being formed
during the pretreatment. These include: acetic acid
(formed during breaking off the acetic groups from he-
micellulose), furfural (can be degraded to formic acid)
and HMF (can be degraded to formic and levulinic acids).
Reaction rate Kc of acetic acid, furfural, and HMF were
modeled according to the following kinetic model [40]:
where [H+]a = molal hydrogen-ion concentration, A =
constant, a = constant, E = activation energy, R = gas
constant, and T = temperature.
For hydrothermal pretreatment without adding any
chemicals, a constant molal hydrogen-ion concentration
was assumed; the following expression can be obtained:
where AH = constant.
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. Compositional Analysis
Compositional analysis of the prairie cord grass was
performed by acid hydrolysis according to Hames et al.,
2008; and Selig et al., 2008 [36,37], with results given in
Table 2. These results show that carbohydrate and lignin
contents of prairie cord grass had a similar composition
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Table 2. Prairie cord grass composition.
Glucose [% DM] Xylose [% DM] Arabinose [% DM] Lignin [% DM] Ash [% DM]
33.07 +/ 0.37 13.52 +/ 2.00 1.59 +/ 0.57 20.96 +/ 0.52 5.65 +/ 0.04
to other types of biomass including corn stover and
3.2. Untreated Prairie Cord Grass in Enzymatic
Glucose conversion of enzymatic hydrolysis for the un-
treated prairie cord grass was about 45.66%. Most glu-
cose was released within 24 h. The initial hydrolysis rate
was calculated from the hydrolysis that occurred in the
first 3 h. The initial hydrolysis rates were 0.25 g/(L·h).
The prairie cord grass sample is a heterogeneous sub-
strate containing stalks, leaves, etc. As shown on the
SEM picture, raw prairie cord grass had a unique struc-
ture of the fibers. Generally, intact cells can be seen
clearly on the particles (Figure 2). However, it is hard to
recognize leaf or stalk tissues of prairie cord grass be-
cause the grinding and sieving procedure results in
smaller cell fragments. The pores did not occur in large
amount and the entire structure was closed and thus more
recalcitrant. The pore sizes were from 5 to 20 µm in raw
prairie cord grass. An increase in magnification from 350
to 600 gave an image of prairie cord grass that was simi-
lar to the one at lower magnification.
3.3. Hydrothermal Pretreatment
Sugar conversion rates varied with the conditions of the
process (Figure 3). The most efficient glucose release
during the enzymatic hydrolysis was obtained in case of
the samples pretreated at high temperature (210˚C) and
short reaction time (10 min), represented by experiment 2
(90.98% ± 3.41% hydrolysis glucose yield and 87.28% ±
3.27% total glucose yield). Lower temperatures (160˚C -
170˚C) gave much lower cellulose-to-glucose conver-
sion rates—below 65%. In case of higher temperature
(218˚C) and longer time (15 min)—a decrease in glucose
yields could be observed (86.98% ± 2.88% hydrolysis
glucose yield and 80.97% ± 2.68% total glucose yield).
When pretreating at high temperature, water may act
as an acid [41,42] and drive the conversion of monomer
sugars to furans. At high temperatures monomer sugars
will be rapidly degraded into HMF and furfural under
acidic conditions. Figure 4 shows the degradation prod-
ucts generated by hot water pretreatment at different
conditions. About 4% - 7% of the glucan was converted
to glucose during pretreatment and some glucose was
degraded further to HMF. 20% - 40% hemicellulose was
solubilized in the form of oligosaccharides and xylose.
Although no chemicals were added during the hy-
Figure 2. SEM pictures of raw prairie cord grass.
Figure 3. Glucose production comparison among different
process conditions: 161.7˚C - 218.3˚C and 7.9 - 22.1 min.
dro-thermal pretreatment, some of xylose was still fur-
ther degraded to furfural (0.3 - 4.1g/L) under different
After pretreatment, the cell walls of prairie cord grass
were altered. Figure 5 shows pores created after the hy-
drothermal pretreatment. The pores in raw prairie cord
grass did not occur in large amount and its sizes were
from 5 - 20 µm and the entire structure was more closed
(Figure 2). As to the pretreated samples, it can be seen
that the fibers structure was highly porous. Pore sizes (17
- 33 µm) were bigger than those in raw prairie cord grass.
More importantly, created cell wall boundaries were
clearly defined after the pretreatment (Figure 5) but not
before (Figure 2). Pretreatment disrupted cell wall and
breaks appeared in the cell walls, leaving hollow areas
where cells have been removed, and inner parts of the
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H. W. LEI ET AL. 255
(a) (b)
Figure 4. Concentration of by-products in the filtrate after hydrothermal pre-treatment.
Figure 5. SEM picture of samples pretreated at Exp 6 - 218˚C/15 min.
cell were exposed. These conditions occurred to give the
highest glucose yields, which was surely enhanced by the
effect of “spongy” structure caused by multiple small
pores opened during the pretreatment. The largest pores
sizes were measured in samples pretreated at 190°C for
7.9 min. This also resulted in high enzymatic conversion
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3.4. Pretreatment Effect on Enzymatic
As it can be seen (Figure 3), sugars production varied
with the conditions of the process. The most efficient
glucose production from the lignocellulosic structure
during the hydrolysis was obtained in case of the material
pretreated at high temperature (210˚C) and short reaction
time (10 min). The lowest process efficiency was ob-
served in case of applying relatively low temperature
(170°C) and short reaction time (10 min). Comparison
among different conditions of the hydrothermal pre-
treatment in terms of by-products generation during
at-line monitored hydrolysis was also studied. By-prod-
ucts generation was not significant during the hydrolysis.
This was a result of a thorough washing of the cellulose
fraction after the pretreatment. Also lack of significant
lactic acid production proved that no bacterial infection
occurred during the process. Acetic acid production was
observed to be the highest in case of either low tempera-
ture or time of reaction, and the lowest in case of high
temperature application. Acetic acid was produced by
decomposition of hemicellulose during enzymatic (or
chemical) hydrolysis. Its generation can be avoided by
effective transfer of hemicellulose to the liquid fraction
during pretreatment. It can be seen that in case of high
temperature application, hemicellulose was removed most
effectively, resulting in low acetic acid and xylose pro-
duction during the hydrolysis. However, most of the xy-
lose was converted into furfural during the pretreatment,
resulting in high concentration of this inhibitor in the
liquid fraction.
As mentioned above, hemicellulose and products of its
degradation were removed to the filtrate after hydro-
thermal pretreatment. The filtrate was also analyzed for
the presence of sugars and inhibitors (without any
post-treatment). To be able to use hemicellulose sugars in
the hydrolysis and further in the fermentation process,
liquid fraction needs to be detoxified, which is a labori-
ous and expensive procedure. Moreover, the sugars pre-
sent in the filtrate are mostly pentoses, which do not have
a feasible application in fermentation process currently.
Instead, C-5 sugars could be utilized in cattle feed pro-
duction [18].
In case of the filtrate, time change did not seem to be
significant for glucose and xylose production, however it
did influence arabinose and cellobiose release. Tempera-
ture had a major influence on all the sugars production.
By-products release into the filtrate depended strongly on
temperature (increasing with its increase), but not on
time change. Temperature had a significant effect on
both conversion rates of pretreatment and enzymatic hy-
drolysis, unlike time change, which influenced only the
pretreatment conversion rate since in this calculation
filtrate was taken into account.
3.5. Conversion Rates and Hydrolysis Kinetics
The highest conversion rates in the enzymatic hydrolysis
(94.53%) as well as during the pretreatment (97.96%)
were assigned to the following conditions: 210°C and 10
min. In case of higher temperature (218°C) and longer
time (15 min)—about 8% decrease in glucose conversion
rate was observed. Lower temperatures (160˚C - 170°C)
gave much lower glucose conversion rates—below 70%.
However, even cooking at relatively low temperatures
(161.72 °C) gave conversion rate of the hydrolysis higher
than the non-treated sample (control).
Before pretreatment, the initial hydrolysis rate was
0.25 g/(L·h). After pretreatment initial hydrolysis rates
were significantly increased up to 4.2 g/(L·h) for prairie
cord grass under different pretreatment conditions. A
possible explanation for this phenomenon can be found
by examining the kinetics of hydrolysis. Initial hydroly-
sis rate can be expressed as dG/dt = k[G0], where [G0]
is exposed cellulose expressed as concentration of mo-
nomer units (g/L), and it is a function of surface area, and
k is pretreatment conditions related constant (Table 1).
Hydrolysis data were fit to a Michaelis-Menten model
[43] to determine the kinetic constant: dissociation con-
stant, Km. High initial hydrolysis rate shows more rapid
dissociation of the sugar in the hydrolysis and faster
production of the product glucose, whereas large Km
shows lower affinity of the enzyme for the cellulose in the
hydrolysis. The kinetic model equation is shown below:
vVSK S (5)
v: Rate of reaction (g/L·hr)
Vm: initial rate of reaction (g/L·hr)
S: Substrate/Product concentration (g/L)
Km: dissociation constant (g/L)
A typical data fitting using Michaelis-Menten model
(Figure 6, experiment #4) was applied to determine dis-
sociation constant (Km) for enzymatic hydrolysis of prai-
rie cord grass. Values of R2 showed that the models for
each response variable explain the hydrolysis process
relationships well (Table 1 and Figure 6). The higher the
dissociation constant, the lower the affinity of the en-
zyme to the pretreated prairie cord grass. The dissocia-
tion constant, Km in this study was a good representation
of the affinity to the pretreated prairie cord grass.
3.6. Kinetic Evaluation of Hydrothermal
Prairie cord grass is mainly comprised of cellulose, he-
micellulose, and lignin. Prairie cord grass is a complex
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Figure 6. Michaelis-Menten model of data fitting for experiment 4.
solid with some glucose and xylose contents which were
released during the hydrothermal pretreatment. Amounts
of glucose and xylose released during the pretreatment
were dependent on the process conditions. During the
pretreatment part of monomers (hexoses pyranosidic
structures and pentoses furanosidic structures) were con-
verted into hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and furfural.
These compounds are considered inhibitory for the fer-
mentation. Parameters such as temperature or residence
time influence the products through the kinetics of the
reaction; therefore knowing the kinetics is a key factor to
predict the product yields. Kinetic modeling plays an
important role in the design, development, and operation
of many chemical processes. Kinetic data are also im-
portant in the design and evaluation of the processes to
hydrolyze cellulosic materials to glucose for fermenta-
tion to ethanol or a variety of other chemical intermedi-
ates. Several by-products were formed during the pre-
treatment. These included: acetic acid (formed during
deacetylation of hemicellulose), furfural (can be de-
graded to formic acid) and HMF (can be degraded to
formic and levulinic acids). Reaction rate Kc of acetic
acid, furfural, and HMF were modeled using data from
this study. The kinetic parameters including the activa-
tion energy (E) and the constant (AH) were estimated and
listed in Equations (6)-(8). The model gave a good ap-
proximation of the temperature range where the reaction
takes place during the pretreatment with correlation coef-
ficient R2 from 0.75 to 0.82. A good fit of the pretreat-
ment path of inhibitors was carried out depending on the
temperature and time. Regarding the evolution of the
inhibitors with temperature and heating rate, the model is
able to describe the experimental data properly.
Kc1.3310EXP81559RTmi n8 0R.
 2
Acetic acid:
Kc1.4210EXP43518 RTmin0.5 R7
 2
4. Conclusion
Hydrothermal pretreatment of lignocellulosic herbaceous
materials is a promising method, especially due to no
chemicals usage and its simplicity. Good results were
obtained along with carefully optimized hydrolysis.
Based on the results, the most efficient pretreatment con-
ditions were high temperature and short reaction time
(210°C/10 min), giving the highest 97.96% of the
pre-treatment conversion rate and 94.53% of the hydro-
lysis conversion rate. Therefore it is possible to enhance
the conversion of un-treated material in the hydrolysis by
48.87% with the hydrothermal pretreatment, and usage of
no chemicals. The lowest glucose yields were observed
at low temperatures, even with long reaction time. There-
fore it can be concluded, that temperature had a signifi-
cant influence on glucose release during the hydrolysis,
which was also confirmed by the Michaelis-Menten and
kinetic models. Furthermore, it can be seen from on-line
monitored hydrolysis results that duration of the process
was shortened to about 36 - 40 hours, instead of 72 hours.
Most of the inhibitors and hemicellulose sugars were
found in the filtrate, which also confirms the effective-
ness of the hydrothermal treatment towards herbaceous
materials prior to its hydrolysis and further ethanol fer-
mentation. Kinetic models were used to fit the inhibitors
and their conversion rates were related to temperature.
 
(6) 5. Acknowledgements
This work was supported by funding from the South
Dakota Research and Commercialization Council and
Washington State University.
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