BACKGROUND: Quinoa is a pseudo-cereal grown predominantly in South America. The quinoa stalks are lignocellulosic residues, which have a limited use today. The objective of the current study was to assess the potential of this material as a source of monosaccharides for fermentation purposes by means of steam pretreatment giving sugars from the hemicellulose part, and enzymatic hydrolysis of the solid fraction obtained. SO2 catalysed steam pretreatment was carried out with a holding time of 5min at temperatures between 180 and 220°C. The pretreatment was carried out at two different scales, a small reactor of size 0.5L and a somewhat larger reactor of size 10L, to allow comparison of scale effects in the pretreatment. RESULTS: The highest xylose yield in the liquid phase, obtained after pretreatment at 210°C, was 80%. In the smaller scale unit, longer residence times were needed. The enzymatic hydrolysis, at an enzyme loading of 15 FPU g-1 glucan and a WIS loading of 2%, resulted in a glucose yield of 70% based on the original glucan. The overall sugar yield, including the xylan hydrolysed in the enzymatic treatment, at dilute conditions was 75%. CONCLUSIONS: SO2 catalysed pretreatment of quinoa straw followed by enzymatic hydrolysis gave a relatively good sugar yield. However, the yield obtained was somewhat lower than previously reported for similar materials, such as wheat straw and sugarcane bagasse, steam pretreated with SO2.
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© 2013 Society of Chemical Industry.