Two-stage steam explosion pretreatment of softwood with 2-naphthol as carbocation scavenger

Seidel, Christoph-Maximilian; Brethauer Studer, Simone; Gyenge, László; Rudolf von Rohr, Philipp; Studer, Michael Hans-Peter (2019). Two-stage steam explosion pretreatment of softwood with 2-naphthol as carbocation scavenger Biotechnology for Biofuels, 12(1), pp. 1-12. BioMed Central 10.1186/s13068-019-1373-3

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Background Lignocellulosic biomass is considered as a potential source for sustainable biofuels. In the conversion process, a pretreatment step is necessary in order to overcome the biomass recalcitrance and allow for sufficient fermentable sugar yields in enzymatic hydrolysis. Steam explosion is a well known pretreatment method working without additional chemicals and allowing for efficient particle size reduction. However, it is not effective for the pretreatment of softwood and the harsh conditions necessary to achieve a highly digestible cellulose fraction lead to the partial degradation of the hemicellulosic sugars. Previous studies showed that the autohydrolysis pretreatreatment of softwood can benefit from the addition of 2-naphthol. This carbocation scavenger prevents lignin repolymerisation leading to an enhanced glucose yield in the subsequent enzymatic hydrolysis. Results In order to prevent the degradation of the hemicellulose, we investigated in this study a two-stage 2-naphthol steam explosion pretreatment. In the first stage, spruce wood is pretreated at a severity which is optimal for the autocatalytic hydrolysis of the hemicellulose. The hydrolyzate containing the solubilized sugars is withdrawn from the reactor and the remaining solids are pretreated with different amounts of 2-naphthol in a second stage at a severity that allows for high glucose yields in enzymatic hydrolysis. The pretreated spruce was subjected to enzymatic hydrolysis and to simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF). In the first stage, the maximal yield of hemicellulosic sugars was 47.5% at a pretreatment severity of log R0= 3.75 at 180 °C. In the second stage, a 2-naphthol dosage of 0.205 mol/mol lignin C9-unit increased the ethanol yield in SSF with a cellulose loading of 1% using the whole second stage pretreatment slurry by 17% from 73.6% for the control without 2-naphthol to 90.4%. At a higher solid loading corresponding to 5% w/w cellulose, the yields decreased due to higher concentrations of residual 2-naphthol in the biomass and the pretreatment liquor, but also due to higher concentrations of potential inhibitors like HMF, furfural and acetic acid. Experiments with washed solids, vacuum filtered solids and the whole slurry showed that residual 2-naphthol can inhibit the fermentation as a single inhibitor but also synergistically together with HMF, furfural and acetic acid. Conclusions This work shows that a two-stage pretreatment greatly enhances the recovery of hemicellulosic sugars from spruce wood. The presence of 2-naphthol in the second pretreatment stage can enhance the ethanol yield in SSF of steam explosion pretreated softwood at low cellulose concentrations of 1% w/w. However, with higher solid loadings of 5% w/w cellulose, the ethanol yields were in general lower due to the solid effect and a synergistic inhibition of HMF, furfural, acetic acid with residual 2-naphthol. The concentration of residual 2-naphthol tolerated by the yeast decreased with increasing concentrations of HMF, furfural, and acetic acid.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL > Resource-efficient agricultural production systems
School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL > Agriculture


Seidel, Christoph-Maximilian;
Brethauer Studer, Simone0000-0001-7755-7593;
Gyenge, László;
Rudolf von Rohr, Philipp and
Studer, Michael Hans-Peter0000-0003-1083-0967


Q Science > QD Chemistry
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QR Microbiology




BioMed Central




Nadine Werndli

Date Deposited:

07 Jan 2020 15:41

Last Modified:

18 Dec 2020 13:29

Publisher DOI:


Additional Information:

Nummerierung im Internet: Biotechnology for Biofuels volume 12, Article number: 37 (2019)




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