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Ethanol production in immobilized-cell bioreactors from mixed sugar syrups and enzymatic hydrolysates of steam-exploded biomass


We investigated ethanol production from mixed sugar syrups. Hydrolysates were prepared from enzymatic saccharification of steam-pretreated aspen chips. Syrups containing 45 g/L of glucose and 12 g/L of xylose were detoxified through two ion-exchange resins and then fermented with Pichia stipitis and Saccharomyces cerevisiae immobilized in Ca-alginate gel beads. Combinations of different gel fractions in the fermentation volume, amount of yeast cells, and ratios of P. stipitis vs S. cerevisiae within each bead were compared. In the best conditions, by using a total beads volume corresponding to 25% of the working volume, we obtained a yield of 0.39 gethanol/ginitial sugars. This amount of gel entrapped an initial cell concentration of 6×1012cells/L with ratio of S. cerevisiae/P. stipitis of 0.25 g/g. Modified stirredtank reactors were obtained either by adding marbles or by inserting a perforated metal cylinder, which reduced considerably the rupture of beads while visibly improving oxygenation of the medium.