ISSN print edition: 0366-6352
ISSN electronic edition: 1336-9075
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Alkali pre-treatment of Sorghum Moench for biogas production

Karina Michalska and Stanisław Ledakowicz

Textile Research Institute, ul. Brzezinska 5/15, 92-103, Lodz, Poland



Abstract: This work studies the influence of the alkali pre-treatment of Sorghum Moench — a representative of energy crops used in biogas production. Solutions containing various concentrations of sodium hydroxide were used to achieve the highest degradation of lignocellulosic structures. The results obtained after chemical pre-treatment indicate that the use of NaOH leads to the removal of almost all lignin (over 99 % in the case of 5 mass % NaOH) from the biomass, which is a prerequisite for efficient anaerobic digestion. Several parameters, such as chemical oxygen demand, total organic carbon, total phenolic content, volatile fatty acids, and general nitrogen were determined in the hydrolysates thus obtained in order to define the most favourable conditions. The best results were obtained for the Sorghum treated with 5 mass % NaOH at 121°C for 30 min The hydrolysate thus achieved consisted of high total phenolic compounds concentration (ca. 4.7 g L−1) and chemical oxygen demand value (ca. 45 g L−1). Although single alkali hydrolysis causes total degradation of glucose, a combined chemical and enzymatic pre-treatment of Sorghum leads to the release of large amounts of this monosaccharide into the supernatant. This indicates that alkali pre-treatment does not lead to complete cellulose destruction. The high degradation of lignin structure in the first step of the pre-treatment rendered the remainder of the biomass available for enzymatic action. A comparison of the efficiency of biogas production from untreated Sorghum and Sorghum treated with the use of NaOH and enzymes shows that chemical hydrolysis improves the anaerobic digestion effectiveness and the combined pre-treatment could have great potential for methane generation.

Keywords: chemical hydrolysis – alkali pre-treatment – anaerobic digestion – biogas production

Full paper is available at

DOI: 10.2478/s11696-012-0298-0


Chemical Papers 67 (9) 1130–1137 (2013)

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

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