Economic Impact of Total Solids Loading on Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Dilute Acid Pretreated Corn Stover

David Humbird, Ali Mohagheghi, Nancy Dowe, Daniel J. Schell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus Citations


In process integration studies of the biomass-to-ethanol conversion process, it is necessary to understand how cellulose conversion yields vary as a function of solids and enzyme loading and other key operating variables. The impact of solids loading on enzymatic cellulose hydrolysis of dilute acid pretreated corn stover slurry was determined using an experimental response surface design methodology. From the experimental work, an empirical correlation was obtained that expresses monomeric glucose yield from enzymatic cellulose hydrolysis as a function of solids loading, enzyme loading, and temperature. This correlation was used in a technoeconomic model to study the impact of solids loading on ethanol production economics. The empirical correlation was used to provide a more realistic assessment of process cost by accounting for changes in cellulose conversion yields at different solids and enzyme loadings as well as enzyme cost. As long as enzymatic cellulose conversion drops off at higher total solids loading (due to end-product inhibition or other factors), there is an optimum value for the total solids loading that minimizes the ethanol production cost. The optimum total solids loading shifts to higher values as enzyme cost decreases.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1245-1251
Number of pages7
JournalBiotechnology Progress
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2010

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-510-47512


  • biomass-to-ethanol
  • corn stover
  • solids loading


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