Biofuel produced from lignocellulosic materials, so-called second generation bioethanol shows energetic, economic and environmental advantages in comparison to bioethanol from starch or sugar. However, physical and chemical barriers caused by the close association of the main components of lignocellulosic biomass, hinder the hydrolysis of cellulose and hemicellulose to fermentable sugars. The main goal of pretreatment is to increase the enzyme accessibility improving digestibility of cellulose. Each pretreatment has a specific effect on the cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin fraction thus, different pretreatment methods and conditions should be chosen according to the process configuration selected for the subsequent hydrolysis and fermentation steps. This paper reviews the most interesting technologies for ethanol production from lignocellulose and it points out several key properties that should be targeted for low-cost and advanced pretreatment processes.
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