Effect of crystallinity and degree of polymerization of cellulose on enzymatic saccharification



Lignocellulose materials were pretreated by methods known to improve enzymatic saccharification, and the percentage crystallinity (x-ray diffraction) and degree of polymerization were measured. It was observed that although the percentage crystallinity of cellulose was not altered by alkaline explosion (AE), carbon dioxide explosion (CE), ozone, and sodium chlorite treatment, very great increases were obtained in the extent of enzymatic saccharification. All the pretreatments studied except sodium chlorite caused significant reduction in degree of polymerization. It appears likely that the rate and extent of saccharification is governed by particle size, surface area, and degree of polymerization, since crystallinity effects alone do not explain the observed trends in the hydrolysis data.