The present work deals with intensification of delignification and subsequent enzymatic hydrolysis of sustainable biomass such as groundnut shells, coconut coir and pistachio shells using ultrasound assisted approach so as to develop an economical approach for obtaining bioethanol. Process intensification, in the current context, is referred to as any improvements giving enhanced rates possibly with lower energy and chemical as well as enzyme requirement for delignification and hydrolysis respectively. Conventional processing for both delignification and enzymatic hydrolysis has also been investigated for establishing the degree of intensification. The obtained results for delignification of biomass established that for conventional alkaline treatment, the extent of delignification for the case of groundnut shells, coconut coir and pistachio shells were 41.8, 45.9 and 38% which increased to 71.1, 89.5 and 78.9% respectively giving almost 80-100% increase for the ultrasound assisted approach. Under optimized conditions, the conventional approach resulted in reducing sugar yields as 10.2, 12.1 and 8.1g/L for groundnut shells, coconut coir and pistachio shells respectively whereas for the case of ultrasound-assisted enzymatic hydrolysis, the obtained yields were 21.3, 23.9 and 18.4g/L in same order of biomass. The material samples were characterized by several characterization techniques for establishing the morphological changes obtained due to the use of ultrasound which were found to be favorable for enhanced delignification and hydrolysis for the ultrasound assisted approach. Overall, the results of this work establish the process intensification benefits due to the application of ultrasound for different sustainable biomass with mechanistic understanding based on the morphological analyses.
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