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Bioethanol production from steam-exploded rice husk

by recombinant Escherichia coli

Yusuke Yoshiba
Rice husk is one of the abundant lignocellulosic biomass. Because of the
significant amount of sugars such as cellulose (28-35%) and hemicellulose (12-29%),
rice husk can be used for biofuel production such as bioethanol. The complex
structure of lignocellulosic biomass composed of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin,
is resistant to degradation and limits biomass utilization for ethanol production. The
crystallinity of cellulose and protection of cellulose by lignin contribute to the
recalcitrance of lignocelluloses to hydrolysis. Therefore, we carried out the steam-
explosion treatment for the pretreatment of rice husk. The steam-explosion treatment
involves the sub-critical oxidation of organics or oxidizable inorganic components at
elevated temperatures (223-236
C) and pressures (2.5-3.0 MPa) using a gaseous
source of oxygen. We found out that steam-explosion treatment condition of 3.0
MPa, 236
C, 5 min was optimum for enzymatic saccharification of rice husk by
cellulase ONOZUKA. The cell walls of steam-exploded rice husk appeared to
become fibrous forms by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analysis. We
investigated the ethanol fermentation of glucose solutions obtained by
saccharification of steam-exploded rice husk, hemicellulose fraction and cellulose
fraction extracted from steam-exploded rice husk by using recombinant Escherichia
coli ATCC55124 (Ohta et al., 1991) or Saccharomyces cerevisiae NBRC0224. When
the glucose solution obtained from the saccharification of cellulose fraction was
fermented by E. coli, the 0.28 mg-ethanol/mg-cellulose was produced. On the other
hand, the glucose solution obtained from the saccharification of steam-exploded rice
husk did not be fermented by E. coli. It appears that both fermentation and growth of
E. coli were inhibited by saccharified solution of steam-exploded rice husk. In
contrast, S. cerevisia fermented the saccharified solution of steam-exploded rice
husk to ethanol. But, the ethanol yield from cellulose and hemicellulose fractions by
S. cerevisiae was lower than that by E. coli.
, Toyo University, Gunma, Japan; Takamitsu Tabata, Toyo
University, Gunma, Japan; Kazuo Hieda, Frontier Foods Co. Ltd., Tokyo, Japan;
Norio Shimizu, Toyo University, Gunma, Japan
These results demonstrate that recombinant E. coli is useful for the ethanol
fermentation of cellulose and hemicellulose fractions from steam-exploded rice husk.