Abundant lignocellulosic biomass could become a source of sugars and lignin, potential feedstocks for the now emergent bio-renewable economy. The production and conversion of sugars from biomass have been well-studied, but far less is known about the production of lignin that is amenable to valorization. Here we report the isolation of lignin generated from the hydrolysis of biomass dissolved in the ionic liquid 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride. We show that lignin can be isolated from the hydrolysate slurry by simple filtration or centrifugation, and that the ionic liquid can be recovered quantitatively by a straightforward wash with water. The isolated lignin is not only free from ionic liquid, but also lacks cellulosic residues and is substantially depolymerized, making it a promising feedstock for valorization by conversion into fuels and chemicals.
Keywords: 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride; bagasse; biorefinery; centrifugation; corn stover; filtration; techno-economics; valorization.