Bioconversion of lignocellulosic biomass to bioethanol has shown environmental, economic and energetic advantages in comparison to bioethanol produced from sugar or starch. However, the pretreatment process for increasing the enzymatic accessibility and improving the digestibility of cellulose is hindered by many physical-chemical, structural and compositional factors, which make these materials difficult to be used as feedstocks for ethanol production. A wide range of pretreatment methods has been developed to alter or remove structural and compositional impediments to (enzymatic) hydrolysis over the last few decades; however, only a few of them can be used at commercial scale due to economic feasibility. This paper will give an overview of extrusion pretreatment for bioethanol production with a special focus on twin-screw extruders. An economic assessment of this pretreatment is also discussed to determine its feasibility for future industrial cellulosic ethanol plant designs.
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