Efficiently breaking down biomass feedstocks into useable materials for biofuels and chemicals is a crucial step any developer needs to consider when selecting the best pretreatment method. Jose Atilio de Frias, researcher at the University of Illinois’ Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, emphasizes that the importance of pretreatment is to remove or alter lignin, which acts as a type of glue that holds the biomass together but also inhibits the action of enzymes to release the sugars from cellulose. “So, if you introduce enzymes to the biomass without pretreatment, you will get little release of sugars,” he says. “Unless you do pretreatment, the whole biochemical scheme toward biofuels will not be accomplished.”
Currently, one of the most common pretreatment methods is accomplished using steam explosion, but further advances and innovations in other pretreatment methods could diversify pretreatment options. In recent months, several breakthroughs and new approaches have been announced, one of which is organic solvent pretreatments with butadiene sulfone.
Tags: Ionic liquids, liquid salts, 1,3-butadiene, sulfur dioxide, sulfurous acid, molten salts, imidazolium chloride, corn stover, switchgrass, eucalyptus, pine, glycerol,cellulose, hemicellulose, carbon
Source: Biomassmagazine, 2013-07-22.