Effect of Steam Explosion on the Structural Modification of Rice Straw for Enhanced Biodegradation and Biogas Production

Abolfazl Lotfi Aski, Alimohammad Borghei, Ali Zenouzi, Nariman Ashrafi, Mohammad J. Taherzadeh


The goal of this study was to develop an operational steam explosion pretreatment for effective modification of rice straw chemical structure in order to improve its biodegradability and methane yield. The parameters of pressure (5 bar to 15 bar), moisture (0% to 70%), and time (1 min to 15 min) were studied in steam explosion pretreatment. The steam explosion efficiency was investigated according to the changes in crystallinity structure and chemical composition on rice straw, as well as the methane yield from straw. Steam explosion changed the structure linkages between the lignin and carbohydrate, which was indicated by a reduction in the peak intensities in the bonds from 1648 cm-1 to 1516 cm-1. After pretreatment, the crystallinity index of the rice straw in the 10 bar-10 min cycle with no moisture and 15 bar-10 min cycle with 70% moisture increased from 22.9% to 28.3% and 28.6%, respectively. Steam explosion efficiently decreased the lignin. The highest reduction in the amount of lignin was observed with the 10 bar-10 min cycle, which reached from 18.6% to 13.0%. The methane yield increased with the cycles 10 bar-10 min and 15 bar-15 min with 35% moisture, and 15 bar-10 min with 70% moisture by 113%, 104%, and 147% compared to that of the untreated straw, respectively. Moreover, the highest biodegradation percent of the rice straw was obtained in these cycles.


Rice straw; Steam explosion pretreatment; Lignin; Crystallinity index; Anaerobic digestion; Methane yield

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