A strategy for synergistic ethanol yield and improved production predictability through blending feedstocks

Michael Persson, Mats Galbe, Ola Wallberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The integration of first- and second-generation bioethanol processes has the potential to accelerate the establishment of second-generation bioethanol on the market. Cofermenting pretreated wheat straw with a glucose-rich process stream, such as wheat grain hydrolysate, in a simultaneous saccharification and fermentation process could address the technical issues faced during the biological conversion of lignocellulose to ethanol. For example, doing so can increase the final ethanol concentration in the broth and mitigate the effects of inhibitors formed during the pretreatment. Previous research has indicated that blends of first- and second-generation substrates during simultaneous saccharification and fermentation have synergistic effects on the final ethanol yield, an important parameter in the process economy. In this study, enzymatic hydrolysis and simultaneous saccharification and fermentation were examined using blends of pretreated wheat straw and saccharified wheat grain at various ratios. The aim of this study was to determine the underlying mechanisms of the synergy of blending with regard to the yield and volumetric productivity of ethanol. Results: Replacing 25% of the pretreated wheat straw with wheat grain hydrolysate during simultaneous saccharification and fermentation was sufficient to decrease the residence time needed to deplete soluble glucose from 96 to 24 h and shift the rate-limiting step from ethanol production to the rate of enzymatic hydrolysis. Further, a synergistic effect on ethanol yield was observed with blended substrates, coinciding with lower glycerol production. Also, blending substrates had no effect on the yield of enzymatic hydrolysis. Conclusions: The effects of substrate blending on the volumetric productivity of ethanol were attributed to changes in the relative rates of cell growth and cell death due to alterations in the concentrations of substrate and pretreatment-derived inhibitors. The synergistic effect of substrate blending on ethanol yield was attributed in part to the decreased production of cell mass and glycerol. Thus, it is preferable to perform simultaneous saccharification and fermentation with substrate blends rather than pure substrates with regard to yield, productivity, and the robustness of the process.

Original languageEnglish
Article number156
JournalBiotechnology for Biofuels
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sept 5

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Bioenergy

Free keywords

  • Blending synergy
  • Ethanol
  • Fermentation
  • Fermentation dynamics
  • Hydrolysis
  • Pretreated wheat straw
  • Process integration
  • Saccharified wheat grain
  • SSF
  • Substrate blending


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