The advantage of using paddle dryers (PD) in the production of sugars and 2nd generation ethanol from pretreated wheat straw was investigated. This machinery was employed in order to detoxify steam-exploded substrates and to mix different slurries in the hydrolysis step. The obtained hydrolysate was fermented by the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Acetic acid and furfural were reduced up to 11 and 26 fold respectively in the detoxified substrate. When fermentation was carried out at low solid suspension, the use of PD was as effective as water extraction in detoxifying exploded biomass, giving ethanol yields of 90% at 0.05 solid/liquid ratio (S/L) and 80% at 0.10 S/L. Moreover, by using PD the cellulose conversion yield was significantly improved in the hydrolysis step: when operating at higher S/L (0.4), the hydrolysis efficiency was twice the one achieved by using a bioreactor with a Rushton stirrer.
Keywords: Bioethanol; Detoxification; Hydrolysis; Paddle dryer; Pilot plant study.