Ethanol production using lignocellulosic resources, known as 2nd generation (or 2G) bioethanol, is one of the avenues being explored today to diversify the supply of sustainable fuels over the coming years. As part of this process IFPEN is studying enzymatic hydrolysis, one of the key aspects in the development of associated industrial processes.
Among the various component operations involved in the 2G biobased ethanol production process, the conversion of cellulose into glucose via enzymatic hydrolysis remain a bottleneck due to its complexity of implementation and the economic impact of this part in the overall cost of the process. This complexity is related to the enzyme cocktail used: it must contain at least 3 families of enzymes, each with a specific function (see figure 1):
Enzymatic hydrolysis is impacted by the compositional and structural characteristics of the lignocellulosic resource. The quality of the hydrolysis is depending on the origin of the biomass and the pre-treatment applied. The mechanism that influence the recalcitrance of the pretreated biomass is not fully understood at present due to a lack of description of this enzymatic substrate.
It is for this reason that, in the 2000s, IFPEN launched modeling research aimed at gaining new data to better describe the activity of the cellulases on lignocellulosic substrates [1-2] :
The body of knowledge obtained was incorporated into a model, taking into account the composition of the enzyme cocktail as well as the characteristics of the pre-treated lignocellulose . This model makes it possible to study the impact of the composition of cocktails on their hydrolysis performance, as illustrated in figure 3.
Ultimately, this type of approach will be used to guide the development of more effective enzymatic cocktails, optimize their implementation and predict the reactivity of various lignocellulosic substrates.
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