New route to high-yield ethanol fermentation: ionic solids

June 26, 2011 |

In Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory reports that ionic liquids have emerged as promising new solvents capable of disrupting the cellulose crystalline structure in a wide range of biomass feedstocks. Such biomass is of particular interest as a renewable and sustainable source of fuels and chemicals, and the crystallinity of the cellulose is one of the major obstacles to fermentation and yields.

Recently, researchers at ORNL pretreated four different feedstocks — microcrystalline cellulose (Avicel), switchgrass, pine, and eucalyptus — with an ionic liquid and found such pretreatment results in a loss of cellulose crystalline structure and the transition of the feedstock surface from cellulose I to the more readily digested cellulose II.

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Category: Research

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