The measurement of yield stress and shear thinning flow behavior of slurries formed from unpretreated corn stover at solids loadings of 100–300 g/L provides a key metric for the ability to move, pump, and mix this lignocellulosic slurry, particularly since corn stover slurries represent a major potential feedstock for biorefineries. This study compared static yield stress values and flow hysteresis of corn stover slurries of 100, 150, 200, 250, and 300 g/L, after these slurries were formed by adding pellets to a cellulase enzyme solution (Celluclast 1.5 L) in a fed-batch manner. A rotational rheometer was used to quantitate relative yield stress and its dependence on processing history at insoluble solids concentrations of 4%–21% (wt/vol). Key findings confirmed previous observations that yield stress increases with solids loadings and reaches ~3000 Pa at 25% (wt/vol) solids concentration compared to ~200 Pa after enzyme liquefaction. While optimization of slurry forming (i.e., liquefaction) conditions remains to be done, metrics for quantifying liquefaction extent are needed. The method for obtaining comparative metrics is demonstrated here and shows that the yield stress, shear thinning and shear thickening flow behaviors of enzyme liquefied corn stover slurries can be analyzed using a wide-gap rheometry setup with relative measuring geometries to mimic the conditions that may exist in a mixing vessel of a bioreactor while applying controlled and precise levels of strain.


This is the author-accepted manuscript of R. Szeto, J.C. Overton, A.C.F. dos Santos, C. Eby, N.S. Mosier, E. Ximenes, M.R. Ladisch, and K.A. Erk, “Rheology of enzyme liquefied corn stover slurries: The effect of solids concentration on yielding and flow behavior,” Biotechnology Progress, e3216 (2021). The version of record is available at DOI: 10.1002/btpr.3216.

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