Membrane Bioreactors: A Promising Approach to Enhanced Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Cellulose

Saleha Al-Mardeai, Emad Elnajjar, Raed Hashaikeh, Boguslaw Kruczek, Bart Van der Bruggen, Sulaiman Al-Zuhair

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The depletion of fossil fuel resources and the negative impact of their use on the climate have resulted in the need for alternative sources of clean, sustainable energy. One available alternative, bioethanol, is a potential substitute for, or additive to, petroleum-derived gasoline. In the lignocellulose-to-bioethanol process, the cellulose hydrolysis step represents a major hurdle that hinders commercialization. To achieve economical production of bioethanol from lignocellulosic materials, the rate and yield of the enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulose, which is preferred over other chemically catalyzed processes, must be enhanced. To achieve this, product inhibition and enzyme loss, which are two major challenges, must be overcome. The implementation of membranes, which can permeate molecules selectively based on their size, offers a solution to this problem. Membrane bioreactors (MBRs) can enhance enzymatic hydrolysis yields and lower costs by retaining enzymes for repeated usage while permeating the products. This paper presents a critical discussion of the use of MBRs as a promising approach to the enhanced enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulosic materials. Various MBR configurations and factors that affect their performance are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1121
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • enzymatic hydrolysis
  • lignocellulose
  • membrane bioreactor
  • pretreatment
  • product separation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Environmental Science
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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