U.S. Department of Energy


Date of this Version



J. Agric. Food Chem. 2017, 65, pp. 8652−8662, DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.7b03240.


U.S. government work.


Simultaneous chemical modification and physical reorganization of plant cell walls via alkaline hydrogen peroxide or liquid hot water pretreatment can alter cell wall structural properties impacting nanoscale porosity. Nanoscale porosity was characterized using solute exclusion to assess accessible pore volumes, water retention value as a proxy for accessible water−cell walls surface area, and solute-induced cell wall swelling to measure cell wall rigidity. Key findings concluded that delignification by alkaline hydrogen peroxide pretreatment decreased cell wall rigidity and that the subsequent cell wall swelling resulted increased nanoscale porosity and improved enzyme binding and hydrolysis compared to limited swelling and increased accessible surface areas observed in liquid hot water pretreated biomass. The volume accessible to a 90 Å dextran probe within the cell wall was found to be correlated to both enzyme binding and glucose hydrolysis yields, indicating cell wall porosity is a key contributor to effective hydrolysis yields.