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Journal of Renewable Energy
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 284250, 9 pages
Research Article

Alkali Pretreatment and Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Australian Timber Mill Sawdust for Biofuel Production

School of Civil, Environmental and Chemical Engineering, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, P.O. Box 2476, Melbourne, VIC 3001, Australia

Received 30 June 2015; Revised 21 September 2015; Accepted 27 September 2015

Academic Editor: Siqing Liu

Copyright © 2015 Raymond Martin Trevorah and Maazuza Z. Othman. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This study investigated the potential use of alkali pretreatment of sawdust from Australian timber mills to produce bioethanol. Sawdust was treated using 3–10% w/w NaOH at temperatures of 60, 121, and −20°C. Two pathways of production were trialled to see the impact on the bioethanol potential, enzymatic hydrolysis for glucose production, and simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) for ethanol production. The maximum yields obtained were at 121°C and −20°C using 7% NaOH, with 29.3% and 30.6% ethanol yields after 0.5 and 24 hr, respectively, these treatments yielded 233% and 137% increase from the 60°C counter parts. A notable trend of increased ethanol yields with increased NaOH concentration was observed for samples treated at 60°C; for example, samples treated using 10% NaOH produced 1.92–2.07 times more than those treated using 3% NaOH. FTIR analysis showed reduction in crystallinity correlating with increased ethanol yields with the largest reduction in crystallinity in the sample treated at −20°C for 24 hr with 7% NaOH.