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Issue 4, 2013
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Switchable butadiene sulfone pretreatment of Miscanthus in the presence of water

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Abstract

Pretreatment breaks the recalcitrant structure of lignocellulosic biomass prior to enzymatic hydrolysis and fermentation for the production of biofuels and chemicals. In this study, Miscanthus × giganteus, a C4 perennial grass and energy crop, was pretreated effectively with a new one-step chemical approach at 90 °C–110 °C for 6–30 h using switchable butadiene sulfone. The solvent has the ability to “switch” in equilibrium to 1,3-butadiene and sulfur dioxide, forming sulfurous acid in the presence of water. Sulfurous acid hydrolyzed xylan in Miscanthus, removing up to 91% of xylan into the liquid phase, via Brønsted acid catalysis following irreversible first-order kinetics with the activation energy determined to be 89 kJ mol−1. Butadiene sulfone was mainly responsible for the solubilization of up to 58% of lignin during or after the hydrolysis of xylan. X-ray diffractograms showed that unwanted diene polymers from solvent decomposition can be minimized in the pretreated solids below 110 °C and 18 h, conditions that also allowed for the preservation of 90–99% of glucan. It was demonstrated that all of the butadiene sulfone after pretreatment can be decomposed into 1,3-butadiene and sulfur dioxide, which enables potential solvent reformation and separation from the solubilized xylan derivatives and lignin.

Graphical abstract: Switchable butadiene sulfone pretreatment of Miscanthus in the presence of water

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Publication details

The article was received on 21 Dec 2012, accepted on 05 Feb 2013 and first published on 05 Feb 2013


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C3GC37099B
Citation: Green Chem., 2013,15, 1067-1078
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    Switchable butadiene sulfone pretreatment of Miscanthus in the presence of water

    J. A. de Frias and H. Feng, Green Chem., 2013, 15, 1067
    DOI: 10.1039/C3GC37099B

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