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Recently, the bioconversion of renewable lignocellulosic biomass into fuels and chemicals as an alternative to petroleum is gaining importance due

to the realization of diminishing natural oil and gas resources. Lignocellulose into biofuels and chemicals is the most feasible conversion route strategy in terms of sustainability. In general, lignocellulosic biomass is composed of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. Approximately, 70% of dry mass of lignocellulosic materials are present as cellulose and hemicellulose. They are polysaccharides of the required fermentable sugars for almost fermentation process by microorganism into fuels and chemicals.

Currently more than 46 900 km2 of oil palm are cultivated in Malaysia, the world’s largest exporter of palm oil [1]. As one of the biggest exporters of palm oil and palm oil products, palm oil industries in Malaysia generate huge quantities of biomass in the form of oil palm empty fruit bunch (EFB), oil palm shells (OPS) and oil palm fibers (OPF). The potential of these are yet to be exploited. Out of these biomass, the EFB generated during processing of palm oil, can be considered as primary feedstock for the production of sugars which can be further used as carbon source for biological conversion through fermentation.

Efficient pretreatment method can significantly enhance the hydrolysis of biomass into fermentable sugars. Therefore, a detailed knowledge of pretreatment is required in order to investigate on the potential utilization of EFB as a substrate for sugars production. The structure of EFB needs to be examined to facilitate optimal utilization of this bioresource for biofuels and chemicals production.

Steam has the potential to degrade (thereby pretreat) the complex structure of lignocellulosic biomass. In steam pretreatment, the biomass is simultaneously treated at high

decreasing the crystallinity of cellulose and its degree of polymerization [5]. Therefore. a pretreatment step is intended to open up the biomass (EFB) for enzymatic attack into sugars from the hemicellulose and cellulose breakdown components. the pretreatment used is a cost-effective pretreatment method strategy which employed an excess steam from the mill to pretreat (autohydrolyse) the EFB as feasibility .pressures and high temperatures steam of 140 °C to 260 °C. palm oil mills produce 50 Gkg of OPS and OPF. Every year. On the other hand. During palm oil processing.28 MPa) is used for heating purposes in the factory. this pretreatment is attractive to be practiced in the palm oil mill as it include renewable resources (water. Lignin and other components not converted can be burned to provide the heat and electricity that needed to run the overall process involved (Wyman 2007) or to be use in the palm oil mill production. 0. In this study. lignin could also be potentially used as a substrate for highly value added product of lignophenol production. OPS and OPF). Steam pretreatment on EFB for sugars production is an economic option that can be implemented in the palm oil mill. This amount is sufficient to support the application of steam for the pretreatment of EFB in the palm oil mill. increasing access to surface area. Overall. but only 60 % are used as solid fuel for steam boilers [10]. modifying the lignin. as all these could be considered as inexpensive resources and is readily available in the mill. Steam pretreatment has been reported to be efficient in partially hydrolyzing hemicelluloses. Saturated steam pretreatment or commonly recognized as autohydrolysis is the process of converting lignocellulose into sugars by an exposure to the high temperature and pressure of steam with no addition of external catalysts. for few to several minutes. The boilers produce superheated steam which is used to generate electricity through turbine generator. steam is continuously being generated in the mill for electricity and sterilizing the fruits. The low-pressure steam (140 °C.

A proposed energy balances based on mass balances calculation for the direct separation xylose and glucose from saturated steam pretreatment and saccharification is described in detail. While the steam condensate was determined by GCMS. varied of pretreatment time is used in order to investigate the best saturated pretreatment severity factor on sugars enhancement with minor loses of polysaccharides components. Chemical composition. X-ray diffractogram. A preliminary study on the different substrates and enzymes concentration together with varied temperature and pH is evaluated using common commercial cellulase enzyme. BET and thermal analysis. Later experiments were done to increase the temperatures and pressures of pretreatment for enhancement of saccharification. FTIR spectroscopy. In this study. fiber analysis.study on EFB. Three pretreatment conditions were chose purposely to study the effects of different parameters tested in saccharification. The best steam pretreated EFB was then be evaluated using the scanning electron micrography. . Cellulclast by Novozymes for enhancement of sugars yield. sugars concentration and structural changes were determined in order to assess the effect of steam pretreatment on the different types of EFB biomass. HPLC and colorimetric method in estimating the value of degradation products.

Y 2002). the sheathing of hemicelluloses. 4 glycosidic bonds. The structures of the lignocellulosic biomass. galactose and mannose) and pentoses (arabinose and xylose). especially cellulose crystallinity. . namely xylans. a principle component of all plant materials. The monomers that comprise hemicelluloses are hexoses (glucose. a three dimensional phenylpropane polymer with phenylpropane units held together by ether and carbon-carbon bonds (Sun. and the lignin barrier. Hemicellulose is a complex. Y 2002). Mechanical or chemical pretreatment is used to break down the hemicelluloses and lignin structures in order to improve the substrate digestibility (Sun. mannans and galactans based on the polymer backbone that is very often homopolymeric with β–1. Cellulose is made of linked glucose molecules connected by β–1. Cellulosic materials also contain lignin. is considered one of the most abundant renewable resources in the world. Hemicellulose can be classified into three groups. make it more recalcitrant enzymatic hydrolysis compared to corn starch.Since some researchers have claimed that biomass pretreatment as the second most expensive unit cost [11]. Cellulose. 4 linkage. heterogeneous mixture of sugars and sugar derivatives that form a highly branched network.

The varied raw materials used in manufacture of ethanol via fermentation are classified into three main types of raw materials. glucose. sugar beets. a 6-carbon sugar. starches (from corn. in one ton of fresh fruit bunches (FFB) composed of 230-250 kg of empty fruit bunch. galactose and uronic acids. Hemicellulose is consists of a mixture of 5-carbon and 6-carbon sugar such as xylose. Malaysia is the largest producer and exporter of oil palm produced about 51% of all oil palm obtained in the world (Rodríguez et al 2007). The African oil palm. There are sugars (from sugarcane. Lignin is a phenolic polymer that makes up the bulk of the remaining dry mass and cannot be utilized by ethanol fermenting microorganisms (Greer 2005). At present. it was reported that. 2. Recently. Starches and cellulose must first be hydrolyzed to fermentable sugars by the action of enzymes or mineral acids (Lin & Tanaka 2006). hemicelluloses and lignin. 5. molasses and fruits). 15 million tons .8 × 106 t y-1 of empty fruit bunches. According to Kittikun (2002). Oil palm empty fruit bunch (OPEFB) is the major component of all solid wastes at the mill. mannose.4 × 106 t y-1 of fibre and 2.2 LIGNOCELLULOSIC BIOMASS Lignocellulosic biomass is principally composed of the compounds cellulose. potatoes and root crops) and lignocellulosic biomass (from wood. cassava.3 × 106 t y-1 of shell (Husain et al 2002). arabinose. Palm oil production generates 8. However. palm residues are largely wasted.Cellulose is a polymer of glucose. Elaeis guineensis is used as commercial agriculture in the production of palm oil in Malaysia (Ibrahim 2006). agricultural residues and paper mills).

Heat treatment using moist heat or steam on lignocellulosic materials has been applied by many researchers as a pretreatment in lignocellulosic bioethanol production (Öhgren et al 2007. The OPEFB has a fibrous structure and the fibers stick together to form vascular bundles. Typical steam temperature used in a horizontal direct contact steam sterilizer at the mill is 140oC for 50 minutes (Prasertsan & Prasertsan 1996). In this study. Linde et al 2007. In order to obtain high fermentable sugars. Kaar et al 1998). However. the effect of heat treatment using high pressure steam generated from the boiler in the mill on OPEFB as a pretreatment will be investigated. . the structure of OPEFB has to be altered or removed using suitable pretreatment method. sterilization process on fresh fruit bunch (FFB) has been used to inactivate the natural enzymes. resulting in easier extraction of oil. In the past. It has been noted that heating lignocellulosic materials to high temperature changes its physical and chemical properties. burning is now prohibited by regulations to prevent air pollution.of OPEFB waste is generated annually in Malaysia by oil palm mills. Negro et al 2003. The chemical composition of OPEFB is shown in Table 1 (% dry weight. w/w). Viola et al 2007. loosen the fruits off the bunch and soften the mesocarp. The conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to ethanol is more challenging than regular food biomass due to the complex structure of the plant cell wall (Rebecca et al 2007). Therefore nowadays. OPEFB can be used as an alternative raw material to produce bioethanol due to it contains of cellulose and hemicellulose that can be degraded into fermentable sugars through enzymatic hydrolysis. OPEFB often be used as fuel to generate steam at the mills which creates environmental pollution problems in nearby localities (Rahman et al 2007). In the palm oil mill. The pretreatment method is used to facilitate the enzymatic hydrolysis of lignocellulosic materials (Öhgren et al 2007).

in this study.carbon sugars must be used and developed. the hemicellulytic enzymes are more complex and involve at least endo-1. α-glucuronidase. These enzymes are usually called together cellulose or cellulolytic enzymes (Wyman 1996). exo-1. Enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulose to glucose consists of the cellulase adsorption onto the surface of the cellulose. Enzymatic degradation of cellulose to glucose is generally accomplished by at least three major classes of enzymes: endo-glucanases. the biodegradation of cellulose to fermentable sugars and the desorption of the cellulose. The co-fermentation using single or consotia of yeast is oriented to complete assimilation of all the sugars previously released during the hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass. α-L-arabinofuranosidases and αgalactosidases (Taherzadeh & Karimi 2007). steaming and mechanical treatment might be combined to effectively disrupt the cellulosic structure and make it more susceptible to enzymatic hydrolysis. The conversion of hemicelluloses and cellulose through enzymatic hydrolysis result in the production of pentoses and hexoses sugars. 2. endo-1.and 6.4-β-D-xylanases. the utilizing of local yeast isolates that capable of assimilating both hexoses and pentoses in an optimal way could allow high conversion and ethanol yield. In order to utilize lignocellulosic biomass which contains 5.In this study. exo-glucanases and β-glucosidase.4-β-D-xylosidases. acetyl xylan esterases.4 BIOMASS PRETREATMENT .carbon sugars. Whereas since hemicellulose contains different sugar units.4-β-D-mannanases. Hence. β- mannosidases. Current industrial fermentation organisms are design to only convert glucose to ethanol and other products.and 6. the microorganism that can ferment efficiently 5.

Pretreatment must meet the following requirements: (1) improve the formation of sugars or the ability to subsequently form sugars by enzymatic hydrolysis. J 1997). The classical cellulase system includes endoglucanase. Endoglucanase attacks more or less randomly at sites within (1-4)-β-D-glucan chains in amorphous regions of cellulose or at the surface of microfibrils. be cost-effective. several physical.6 SACCHARIFICATION OR FERMENTATION OF BIOMASS HYDROLYZATES . (2) avoid the degradation or loss of carbohydrate. (3) avoid the formation of byproducts inhibitory to the subsequent hydrolysis and fermentation processes. Cellobiase hydrolyzes cellobiose and water-soluble cellodextrins to glucose (Lee. For the pretreatment of lignocellulosics. reduce cellulose crystallinity and increase the porosity of the materials. Methods Procedures Examples of pretreated materials / Remarks References Table 2: Pretreatment methods of lignocellulosic biomass for fuel ethanol production 2.The purpose of preatment of lignocellulosic materials is to remove lignin and hemicelluloses. exoglucanase and cellobiase (β-glucosidase). The main pretreatment methods reported in literature are shown in Table 2. chemical and biological processes have been developed (Sánchez & Cardona 2007). Exoglucanase releases cellobiose from non-reducing ends of β-D-glucan chains. 2.5 ENZYME HYDROLYSIS Cellulose can be hydrolysed by the action of cellulases into glucose units. physical-chemical.

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