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Advances and perspectives on mass transfer and enzymatic hydrolysis in the enzyme-mediated lignocellulosic biorefinery: A rev...

by Xianzhi Meng, Arthur J Ragauskas
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Biotechnology Advances
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Enzymatic hydrolysis is a critical process for the cellulase-mediated lignocellulosic biorefinery to produce sugar syrups that can be converted into a whole range of biofuels and biochemicals. Such a process operating at high-solid loadings (i.e., scarcely any free water or roughly ≥ 15% solids, w/w) is considered more economically feasible, as it can generate a high sugar concentration at low operation and capital costs. However, this approach remains restricted and incurs “high-solid effects”, ultimately causing the lower hydrolysis yields with increasing solid loadings. The lack of available water leads to a highly viscous system with impaired mixing that exhibits strong transfer resistance and reaction limitation imposed on enzyme action. Evidently, high-solid enzymatic hydrolysis involves multi-scale mass transfer and multi-phase enzyme reaction, and thus requires a synergistic perspective of transfer and biotransformation to assess the interactions among water, biomass components, and cellulase enzymes. Porous particle characteristics of biomass and its interface properties determine the water form and distribution state surrounding the particles, which are summarized in this review aiming to identify the water-driven multi-scale/multi-phase bioprocesses. Further aided by the cognition of rheological behavior of biomass slurry, solute transfer theories, and enzyme kinetics, the coupling effects of flow-transfer-reaction are revealed under high-solid conditions. Based on the above basic features, this review lucidly explains the causes of high-solid hydrolysis hindrances, highlights the mismatched issues between transfer and reaction, and more importantly, presents the advanced strategies for transfer and reaction enhancements from the viewpoint of process optimization, reactor design, as well as enzyme/auxiliary additive customization.