In the present study, a comparison of microwave assisted alkali pretreatment was tried using oil palm empty fruit bunch. The microwave assisted alkali pretreatment of POME using NaOH, significantly improved the enzymatic saccharification of POME by removing more lignin and hemicellulose and increasing its accessibility to hydrolytic enzymes. Enzymatic hydrolysis of POME suspension by various amylolytic enzymes was investigated to reveal the potential coupling mechanism of Microwave Irradiation-Enzyme Coupling Catalysis (MIECC). It was shown that enzymatic hydrolysis of POME using typical enzymes may successfully was carried out at microwave condition. The MIECC resulted in increasing initial reaction rate by about 3 times. The results testify on specific activation of enzymes by microwaves and prove the existence of non-thermal effect in microwave assisted reactions. Low power microwave irradiation (100W) does not increase the temperature beyond 40 oC and hence denaturation of the enzyme is avoided. The present study has highlighted the importance of well controlled microwave assisted enzymatic reaction to enhance the overall reaction rate of the process.
POME, Bioethanol, Enzymatic hydrolysis, Microwave assisted reaction, Non-thermal effects, Enzyme denaturation