Saccharification of lignocellulosic biomass is a fundamental step in the biorefinery of second generation feedstock. The physicochemical and enzymatic processes for the depolymerization of biomass into simple sugars has been achieved through numerous studies in several disciplines. The present review discusses the development of technologies for enzymatic saccharification in industrial processes. The kinetics of cellulolytic enzymes involved in polysaccharide hydrolysis has been discussed as the starting point for the design of the most promising bioreactor configurations. The main process configurations—proposed so far—for biomass saccharification have been analyzed. Attention was paid to bioreactor configurations, operating modes and possible integrations of this operation within the biorefinery. The focus is on minimizing the effects of product inhibition on enzymes, maximizing yields and concentration of sugars in the hydrolysate, and reducing the impact of enzyme cost on the whole process. The last part of the review is focused on an emerging process based on the catalytic action of laccase applied to lignin depolymerization as an alternative to the consolidated physicochemical pretreatments. The laccases-based oxidative process has been discussed in terms of characteristics that can affect the development of a bioreactor unit where laccases or a laccase-mediator system can be used for biomass delignification.
- Reactor design