Structural modification of lignocellulosics by pretreatments to enhance enzymatic hydrolysis



In this work an evaluation was made of a wide variety of single and multiple pretreatment methods for enhancing the rate of enzymatic hydrolysis of wheat straw. A multiple pretreatment consisted of a physical pretreatment followed by a chemical pretreatment. The structural features of wheat straw, including the specific surface area, crystallinity index, and lignin content, were measured to understand the mechanism of the enhancement in the hydrolysis rate upon pretrement. It has been found that, in general, multiple pretreatments were not promising, since the hydrolysis rates rarely exceeded those achieved by single pretreatments. Ballmilling pretreatment was found to be effective in increasing the specific surface area and decreasing the crystallinity index. Treatment with ethylene glycol was highly effective in increasing the specific surface area, in addition to a high degree of delignification. Peracetic acid pretreatment was highly effective in delignifying substrate. Among multiple pretreatments, those involving peracetic acid treatment generally had lower crystallinity indices and lignin content values. The relationship between the hydrolysis rate and the set of structural features indicated that an increase in surface area and a decrease in the crystallinity and lignin content enhance the hydrolysis; the specific surface area is the most influential of the structural features, followed by the lignin content.