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Electrochemical quantification of D-glucose during the production of bioethanol from thermo-mechanically pre-treated wheat straw

Ward, Rhys A.; Charlton, Adam; Welham, Kevin J.; Baker, Paul; Zein, Sharif H.; Tomkinson, Jeremy; Richards, David I.; Kelly, Stephen M.; Lawrence, Nathan S.; Wadhawan, Jay D.


Rhys A. Ward

Adam Charlton

Kevin J. Welham

Paul Baker

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Dr Sharif Zein
Senior Fellow HEA| Reader in Biorefinery Processes and Reaction Engineering| PI of Bioref Group

Jeremy Tomkinson

David I. Richards

Stephen M. Kelly

Nathan S. Lawrence


Mechanical pre-treatment (disc refining) of wheat straw, at both atmospheric and elevated pressure, is shown to be an efficient process to access fermentable monosaccharides, with the potential to integrate within the infrastructure of existing first-generation bioethanol plants. The mild, enzymatic degradation of this sustainable lignocellulosic biomass affords ca. 0.10–0.13 g/g (dry weight) of D-glucose quantifiable voltammetrically in real time, over a two hundred-fold range in experimental laboratory scales (25 mL to 5.0 L), with pressure disc refining of the wheat straw enabling almost twice the amount of D-glucose to be generated during the hydrolysis stage than experiments using atmospheric refining (0.06–0.09 g/g dry weight). Fermentation of the resulting hydrolysate affords 0.08–0.10 g/g (dry weight) of ethanol over similar scales, with ethanol productivity at ca. 37 mg/(L h). These results demonstrate that minimal cellulose decomposition occurs during pressure refining of wheat straw, in contrast to hemicellulose, and suggest that the development of green, mechanochemical processes for the scalable and cost-effective manufacture of second-generation bioethanol requires improved cellulose decomposition.


Ward, R. A., Charlton, A., Welham, K. J., Baker, P., Zein, S. H., Tomkinson, J., …Wadhawan, J. D. (2021). Electrochemical quantification of D-glucose during the production of bioethanol from thermo-mechanically pre-treated wheat straw. Electrochemistry communications, 124, Article 106942.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 18, 2021
Online Publication Date Feb 4, 2021
Publication Date Mar 1, 2021
Deposit Date Jan 18, 2021
Publicly Available Date Feb 12, 2021
Journal Electrochemistry Communications
Print ISSN 1388-2481
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 124
Article Number 106942
Keywords Bioethanol; Lignocellulosic biomass; Pre-treatment; Wheat straw; Thermo-mechanical refining; Glucose oxidase; Mechanochemistry
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