Pilot-scale processing of Miscanthus x giganteus for recovery of anthocyanins integrated with production of microbial lipids and lignin-rich residue

Shivali Banerjee, Bruce S. Dien, Kristen K. Eilts, Erik J. Sacks, Vijay Singh

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Chemical-free hydrothermal pretreatment of Miscanthus x giganteus (Mxg) at the lab scale using high liquid-to-solid ratios resulted in the recovery of anthocyanins and enhanced enzymatic digestibility of residual biomass. In this study, the process is scaled up by using a continuous hydrothermal pretreatment reactor operated at a low liquid-to-solid ratio (50 % w/w solids) as an important step towards commercialization. Anthocyanin yield was 70 % w/w at the pilot scale (50 kg of Mxg), compared to the 94 % w/w yield achieved at the lab scale (0.5 g of Mxg). The pretreated biomass was subsequently refined mechanically using a disc mill to increase the accessibility of cellulose by cellulases. Enzymatic saccharification of the pretreated and disc-milled residue yielded 238 g/L sugar concentration by operating in fed-batch mode at 50 % w/v solids content. Two strains of Rhodosporidium toruloides were evaluated for converting the hydrolysate sugars into microbial lipids, and strain Y-6987 had the highest lipid titer (11.0 g/L). Further, the residue left after enzymatic saccharification was determined to be enriched 1.7-fold in the lignin content. This lignin-rich residue has value as a feedstock for the production of sustainable aviation fuel precursors and other high-value lignin-based chemicals. Hence the proposed biorefinery based on Mxg creates an opportunity for generating revenue from multiple high-value products. As the demand for biofuels and biobased products is rising, the biorefinery products from Mxg would create a niche in the industrial sector.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number150117
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • Anthocyanins
  • Biorefinery
  • Lignin
  • Microbial Lipids
  • Miscanthus x giganteus
  • Pilot-scale

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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