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Issue 22, 2017
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Effective fractionation of lignocellulose in herbaceous biomass and hardwood using a mild acetone organosolv process

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Abstract

Large-scale biorefineries converting lignocellulosic biomass into chemicals, fuels and energy require a cost-effective pretreatment process that can effectively fractionate the three main lignocellulose constituents from a wide variety of feedstocks. A mild organosolv process has been developed using acetone as solvent. Herbaceous biomass (wheat straw and corn stover), hardwood (beech, poplar and birch) and softwood (spruce and pine) were fractionated using near-identical process conditions: 140 °C, 120 min, 50% w/w aqueous acetone and sulfuric acid. For herbaceous biomass and hardwood, effective pretreatment and subsequent enzymatic cellulose hydrolysis into glucose was observed in combination with a high yield of monomeric hemicellulose sugars and lignin. In the case of softwood, poor delignification hampered enzymatic cellulose hydrolysis, despite efficient hemicellulose removal. To assess solvent stability, the impact of temperature, time and acid dose on the degree of acetone self-condensation was explored. The process conditions used for feedstock screening resulted in a 1.4% w/w conversion of acetone to mainly diacetone alcohol and mesityl oxide. For wheat straw, shortening the reaction time to 60 min resulted in reduced solvent self-condensation (1.0% w/w) and improved hemicellulose sugar yield (86%). In sum, effective fractionation was demonstrated for various herbaceous and hardwood feedstocks combined with limited acetone loss due to self-condensation.

Graphical abstract: Effective fractionation of lignocellulose in herbaceous biomass and hardwood using a mild acetone organosolv process

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Publication details

The article was received on 04 Aug 2017, accepted on 25 Oct 2017 and first published on 25 Oct 2017


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7GC02379K
Citation: Green Chem., 2017,19, 5505-5514
  • Open access: Creative Commons BY license
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    Effective fractionation of lignocellulose in herbaceous biomass and hardwood using a mild acetone organosolv process

    A. Smit and W. Huijgen, Green Chem., 2017, 19, 5505
    DOI: 10.1039/C7GC02379K

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