Bioreactors for lignocellulose conversion into fermentable sugars for production of high added value products
A self-designed horizontal rotating bioreactor (HRR) was applied for enzymatic hydrolysis of pretreated corn stover to improve the process economics of ethanol production. The mixing principle was based on gravity and free fall employed with tank-rotating. The liquefaction performances using the HRR and the vertical stirred-tank reactor (VSTR) with a helical impeller were compared and analyzed by measuring rheological properties of the slurry. During the enzymatic hydrolysis, viscosity decreased dramatically in the initial phase for both bioreactors and more pronouncedly for the HRR. Rheological parameters fitted to the power law showed that shear thinning properties of the slurry weakened during the reaction. The glucose concentration was used to define the efficiency of the saccharification reaction. The HRR also proved to be more efficient for glucose release with both the constant and fed-batch substrate addition modes. Liquefaction and saccharification at 25% w/w dry matter (DM) and enzyme loading of 7 FPU/g DM resulted in the optimal glucose concentration of 86 g/kg. Results revealed a decrease in cellulose conversion at increasing initial DM, which was slighter in the HRR compared with that in the VSTR.