Mechanical pre-treatment (disc refining) of wheat straw, at both atmospheric and elevated pressure, is shown to be an efficient process to access fermentable monosaccharides, with the potential to integrate within the infrastructure of existing first-generation bioethanol plants.The mild, enzymatic degradation of this sustainable lignocellulosic biomass affords ca. 0.10-0.13 g/g (dry weight) of D-glucose quantifiable voltammetrically in real time, over a two hundred-fold range in experimental laboratory scales (25 mL to 5.0 L), with pressure disc
refining of the wheat straw enabling almost twice the amount of D-glucose to be generated during the hydrolysis stage than experiments using atmospheric refining (0.06 – 0.09 g/g dry weight). Fermentation of the resulting hydrolysate affords 0.08 – 0.10 g/g (dry weight) of ethanol over similar scales, with ethanol productivity at ca. 37 mg/(L h). These results demonstrate that minimal cellulose decomposition occurs during pressure refining of wheat straw, in contrast to hemicellulose, and suggest that the development of green,
mechanochemical processes for the scalable and cost-effective manufacture of secondgeneration bioethanol requires improved cellulose decomposition.