Highly Efficient Single-step Pretreatment to Remove Lignin and Hemicellulose from Softwood

Irma Bernal-Lugo, Carmen Jacinto-Hernandez, Miquel Gimeno, C. Carmina Montiel, Fausto Rivero-Cruz, Oscar Velasco


The use of lignocellulosic softwood residues as feedstock for the production of bioethanol and other value-added chemical products has been limited by its high recalcitrance. Alkaline or organosolvent pretreatments have been used to remove recalcitrance in softwoods. Although these methods partially remove lignin and hemicellulose, they also result in low glucose recovery. In the first case, there is low cellulose hydrolizability, and in the second, there is a loss of cellulose. This study evaluated both methods combined into one step: alkaline hydrolysis of the biomass in the presence of an organosolvent. Different conditions of temperature and residence times were assayed. The efficiency of these conditions was quantified as the percentage of lignin and hemicellulose removed from the biomass without loss of cellulose. The substrate produced with the most efficient conditions removed 91% of the lignin and 89.1% of the hemicellulose with no loss of cellulose. Enzymatic hydrolysis of this biomass was 90% to 95%, with a substrate concentration of 3% and with five filter paper units per gram of cellulose (FPU/g cellulose). These results indicated that this one-step alkaline-organsolvent process, applied as a pretreatment to softwood, allows highly efficient lignin and hemicellulose removal. 100% of cellulose was recovered, and there was between 90 and 95% glucose yield after enzymatic digestion.


Lignocellulosic softwood residues; Recalcitrance; Alkali-organsolvent pretreatment

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