Effectively releasing the locked polysaccharides from recalcitrant lignocellulose to fermentable sugars is among the greatest technical and economic barriers to the realization of lignocellulose biorefineries because leading lignocellulose pre-treatment technologies suffer from low sugar yields, and/or severe reaction conditions, and/or high cellulase use, narrow substrate applicability, and high capital investment, etc. A new lignocellulose pre-treatment featuring modest reaction conditions (50 degrees C and atmospheric pressure) was demonstrated to fractionate lignocellulose to amorphous cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, and acetic acid by using a non-volatile cellulose solvent (concentrated phosphoric acid), a highly volatile organic solvent (acetone), and water. The highest sugar yields after enzymatic hydrolysis were attributed to no sugar degradation during the fractionation and the highest enzymatic cellulose digestibility ( approximately 97% in 24 h) during the hydrolysis step at the enzyme loading of 15 filter paper units of cellulase and 60 IU of beta-glucosidase per gram of glucan. Isolation of high-value lignocellulose components (lignin, acetic acid, and hemicellulose) would greatly increase potential revenues of a lignocellulose biorefinery.
(c) 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.