Comparative Study of Alkali and Acidic Cellulose Solvent Pretreatment of Corn Stover for Fermentable Sugar Production

Qianqian Wang, Wei Wei, Xia Li, Jianzhong Sun, Jing He, Mingxiong He


As an immerging lignocellulose pretreatment strategy, cellulose solvent-based pretreatment can break down inter- and intra-molecular hydrogen bonds and disrupt the rigid structure of cellulose. Two cellulose solvent pretreatments were examined and compared in this study: NaOH/urea and concentrated phosphoric acid. Pretreated corn stover substrates were characterized by optical microscopy, confocal laser scanning microscopy, X-ray diffraction, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and chemical analyses. It was found that both alkaline- and acid-based cellulose solvent pretreatments can disrupt cell wall structures and cause partial dissolution of the cell wall components. The results indicated that the alkaline-based cellulose solvent was more effective at removing lignin as compared with the phosphoric acid-based cellulose solvent. The initial enzymatic saccharification rate of corn stover pretreated by alkaline-based cellulose solvent was greatly enhanced; complete saccharification of the glucans was achieved within 24 h at an enzyme loading of 15 filter paper units (FPU)/g substrate. The enzymatic digestibility of corn stover pretreated by phosphoric acid was lower than that of the alkaline-based system; this was probably caused by the presence of a high concentration of lignin.


Cellulose solvent pretreatment; Crystallinity; Lignin removal; Enzymatic hydrolysis

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