Date of this Version
Biomacromolecules pp. A-L, 2006; doi: 10.1021/bm101240z
Cellulose is inherently resistant to breakdown, and the native crystalline structure (cellulose I) of cellulose is considered to be one of themajor factors limiting its potential in terms of cost-competitive lignocellulosic biofuel production. Here we report the impact of ionic liquid pretreatment on the cellulose crystalline structure in different feedstocks, including microcrystalline cellulose (Avicel), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), pine (Pinus radiata), and eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), and its influence on cellulose hydrolysis kinetics of the resultant biomass. These feedstocks were pretreated using 1-ethyl-3-methyl imidazolium acetate ([C2mim][OAc]) at 120 and 160°C for 1, 3, 6, and 12 h. The influence of the pretreatment conditions on the cellulose crystalline structure was analyzed by X-ray diffraction (XRD).On a larger length scale, the impact of ionic liquid pretreatment on the surface roughness of the biomass was determined by small-angle neutron scattering (SANS). Pretreatment resulted in a loss of native cellulose crystalline structure. However, the transformation processes were distinctly different for Avicel and for the biomass samples. For Avicel, a transformation to cellulose II occurred for all processing conditions. For the biomass samples, the data suggest that pretreatment formost conditions resulted in an expanded cellulose I lattice. For switchgrass, first evidence of cellulose II only occurred after 12 h of pretreatment at 120°C. For eucalyptus, first evidence of cellulose II required more intense pretreatment (3 h at 160°C). For pine, no clear evidence of cellulose II contentwas detected for the most intense pretreatment conditions of this study (12 h at 160°C). Interestingly, the rate of enzymatic hydrolysis of Avicel was slightly lower for pretreatment at 160°C compared with pretreatment at 120°C. For the biomass samples, the hydrolysis rate was much greater for pretreatment at 160°C compared with pretreatment at 120°C. The result for Avicel can be explained by more complete conversion to cellulose II upon precipitation after pretreatment at 160°C. By comparison, the result for the biomass samples suggests that another factor, likely lignincarbohydrate complexes, also impacts the rate of cellulose hydrolysis in addition to cellulose crystallinity.