©2015. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license


Sweet sorghum has been identified as a promising feedstock for biological conversion to fuels as wellas other chemicals. The lignocellulosic stalk of sweet sorghum, called sweet sorghum bagasse (SSB) isa potential source of lignocellulosic biofuel. The primary goal of this study was to determine optimalalkali (lime: Ca(OH)2and lye: NaOH) pretreatment conditions to obtain higher yield of total reducingsugar while reducing the lignin content for biofuel production from SSB. Biomass conversion and ligninremoval were simultaneously optimized through four quadratic models analyzed by response surfacemethodology (RSM). The optimal conditions for lime pretreatment was 1.7% (w/v) lime concentration,6.0% (w/v) SSB loading, 2.4 h pretreatment time with predicted yields of 85.6 total biomass conversionand 35.5% lignin reduction. For lye pretreatment, 2% (w/v) alkali, 6.8% SSB loading and 2.3 h durationwere the optimal levels with predicted biomass conversion and lignin reduction of 92.9% and 50.0%,respectively. More intensive pretreatment conditions removed higher amounts of hemicelluloses andcellulose. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) spectrum and scanning electron microscope(SEM) image revealed compositional and microstructural changes caused by the alkali pretreatment.