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Demonstration and Assessment of Purification Cascades for the Separation and Valorization of Hemicellulose from Organosolv Beechwood Hydrolyzates

Nitzsche, Roy; Etzold, Hendrik; Verges, Marlen; Gröngröft, Arne; Kraume, Matthias

FG Verfahrenstechnik

Hemicellulose and its derivatives have a high potential to replace fossil-based materials in various high-value-added products. Within this study, two purification cascades for the separation and valorization of hemicellulose and its derived monomeric sugars from organosolv beechwood hydrolyzates (BWHs) were experimentally demonstrated and assessed. Purification cascade 1 included hydrothermal treatment for converting remaining hemicellulose oligomers to xylose and the purification of the xylose by nanofiltration. Purification cascade 2 included the removal of lignin by adsorption, followed by ultrafiltration for the separation and concentration of hemicellulose. Based on the findings of the experimental work, both cascades were simulated on an industrial scale using Aspen Plus®. In purification cascade 1, 63% of the oligomeric hemicellulose was hydrothermally converted to xylose and purified by nanofiltration to 7.8 t/h of a xylose solution with a concentration of 200 g/L. In purification cascade 2, 80% of the lignin was removed by adsorption, and 7.6 t/h of a purified hemicellulose solution with a concentration of 200 g/L was obtained using ultrafiltration. The energy efficiency of the cascades was 59% and 26%, respectively. Furthermore, the estimation of specific production costs showed that xylose can be recovered from BWH at the cost of 73.7 EUR/t and hemicellulose at 135.1 EUR/t.