Separation of reducing sugars from lignocellulosic hydrolysate: Membrane experiments & system dynamic modelling
Riga Technical University, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Department of Water Science and Technology, Paula Valdena street 1-204/205, LV-1048 Riga, Latvia
Separation of fermentable sugars after hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass plays a vital role in second-generation biofuel production. Byproducts and solid fractions generated during pretreatment and hydrolysis can have adverse effects on fermentation efficiency. Previous studies have shown that a maximum of 40% (w/w) of sugar yield can be obtained by sequential UF and NF permeate recovery. This study aimed to introduce a multi-step membrane filtration process to recover fermentable sugars while removing inhibitory bi-products. Fermentable sugar recovery was investigated using a recirculation flow between various stages of separation. The experimental results demonstrated that by introducing NF permeate recirculation to the UF unit a sequential UF/NF system can achieve 60% (w/w%) recovery of reducing sugars. Based on the experimental results, a ‘Simultaneous ultrafiltration and nanofiltration model’ was developed using system dynamics. The model was used to predict the final sugar concentration and sugar yield using sugar permeability in each membrane as the dynamic variability. The model predicts that high sugar permeability (or selective permeability) through the ultrafiltration mostly affects the efficiency of the system, which still is a challenge.