Ensilage is a truncated solid-state fermentation in which anaerobically produced organic acids accumulate to reduce pH and limit microbial activity. Ensilage can be used to both preserve and pretreat biomass feedstock for further downstream conversion into chemicals, fuels, and/or fiber products. This study examined the ensilage of enzyme-treated corn stover as a feedstock for particleboard manufacturing. Corn stover at three different particle size ranges (<100, <10, and <5 mm) was ensiled with and without a commercial enzyme mixture having a cellulase: hemicellulase ratio of 2.54:1, applied at a hemicellulase rate of 1670 IU/kg dry mass. Triplicate 20 L mini-silos were destructively sampled and analyzed on days 0, 1, 7, 21, 63, and 189. Analysis included produced organic acids and water-soluble carbohydrates, fiber fractions, pH, and microorganisms, including Lactobacillus spp. and clostridia were monitored. On days 0, 21, and 189, the triplicate samples were mixed evenly and assembled into particleboard using 10% ISU 2 resin, a soy-based adhesive. Particleboard panels were subjected to industry standard tests for modulus of rupture (MOR), modulus of elasticity (MOE), internal bonding strength (IB), thickness swell (TS), and water absorption at 2 h boiling and 24 h soaking. Enzyme addition did improve the ensilage process, as indicated by sustained lower pH (P < 0.0001), higher water-soluble carbohydrates (P < 0.05), and increased lactic acid production (P < 0.0001). The middle particle size range (< 10 mm) demonstrated the most promising results during the ensilage process. Compared with fresh stover, the ensilage process did increase IB of stover particleboard by 33% (P < 0.05) and decrease water adsorption at 2 h boiling and 24 h soaking significantly (P < 0.05). Particleboard panels produced from substrate ensiled with enzymes showed a significant reduction in water adsorption of 12% at 2 h boiling testing. On the basis of these results, ensilage can be used as a long-term feedstock preservation method for particleboard production from corn stover. Enzyme-amended ensilage not only improved stover preservation but also enhanced the properties of particleboard products.
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