Wednesday, May 2, 2007 - 10:00 AM

Fractionation of lignocellulosic biomass with ionic liquid pretreatment

Anantharam P. Dadi, Sasidhar Varanasi, and Constance A. Schall. Department of Chemical & Environmental Engineering, The University of Toledo, 2801 W Bancroft street, W Central Ave, Apt # C10, Toledo, OH 43606

The major obstacle to produce fuels and chemicals from lignocellulosic biomass is due to its highly recalcitrant nature, which make the hydrolysis process slow and difficult. An efficient pretreatment is necessary to overcome this recalcitrance, which can alter the structure of biomass and make it amenable for hydrolysis.  We developed an ionic liquid pretreatment technique, which enhanced the hydrolysis rates of microcrystalline cellulose significantly. In the pretreatment process, microcrystalline cellulose could be dissolved in ionic liquid and regenerated as an amorphous precipitate upon addition with anti-solvents. Hydrolysis rates of regenerated cellulose increased by two orders of magnitude over that of untreated cellulose, at enzyme loadings of 15 FPU/g glucan and 83 CBU/g glucan. This higher rate of cellulose hydrolysis offers many advantages like faster conversions at lower cellulase loadings and possible recovery and reuse of the cellulase enzymes. We extended this pretreatment technique to fractionate lignocellulosic biomass. Results obtained on the fractionation of corn stover with ionic liquid pretreatment will be enumerated.