Vegetable oil is extracted from oil rich seeds, such as soybeans. Genetic engineering of green plants to accumulate oil in vegetative tissue is a future source of oil that promises increased land productivity and the use of marginal lands. However, the low concentration of lipids in current engineered plant biomass samples makes the oil extraction process challenging and expensive. In this study, liquid hot water (LHW) pretreatment was investigated to enhance oil recovery from the solids and increase enzymatic hydrolysis efficiency of such feedstocks. Corn germ meal was chosen as a model feedstock representing lipid-producing energy crops. Germ meal was pretreated at 160 and 180 °C for 10 and 15 min at 20% w/w solids loading. Enzymatic hydrolysis on the pretreated solid was performed. After pretreatment, the oil concentration increased by 2.2 to 4.2 fold. The most severe pretreatment condition of LHW, at 180 °C for 15 min, gave the maximum oil concentration (9.7%, w/w), the highest triacylglycerol (TAG) content of the extracted oil (71.6%), and the highest conversions of glucose and xylose (99.0% and 32.8%, respectively). This study demonstrates that the optimal pretreatment condition for corn germ meal is 180 °C LHW for 15 min. Pretreatment improves lipids recovery from oil bearing biomass with little or no effect on the lipid profile.
- hydrothermal pretreatment
- corn germ meal