Differential effects of mineral and organic acids on the kinetics of arabinose degradation under lignocellulose pretreatment conditions
Sugar degradation occurs during acid-catalyzed pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass at elevated temperatures, resulting in degradation products that inhibit microbial fermentation in the ethanol production process. Arabinose, the second most abundant pentose in grasses like corn stover and wheat straw, degrades into furfural. This paper focuses on the first-order rate constants of arabinose (5 g/L) degradation to furfural at 150 and 170 °C in the presence of sulfuric, fumaric, and maleic acid and water alone. The calculated degradation rate constants (kd) showed a correlation with the acid dissociation constant (pKa), meaning that the stronger the acid, the higher the arabinose degradation rate. However, de-ionized water alone showed a catalytic power exceeding that of 50 mM fumaric acid and equaling that of 50 mM maleic acid. This cannot be explained by specific acid catalysis and the shift in pKw of water at elevated temperatures. These results suggest application of maleic and fumaric acid in the pretreatment of lignocellulosic plant biomass may be preferred over sulfuric acid. Lastly, the degradation rate constants found in this study suggest that arabinose is somewhat more stable than its stereoisomer xylose under the tested conditions.
Journal: Biochemical Engineering Journal - Volume 43, Issue 1, 15 January 2009, Pages 92–97