• fiber morphology;
  • enzymatic hydrolysis;
  • lignocellulose;
  • FE-SEM;
  • TEM


Cell wall deterioration throughout enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulosic biomass is greatly affected by the chemical composition and the ultrastructure of the fiber cell wall. The resulting pattern of cell wall deterioration will reveal information on cellulose activity throughout enzymatic hydrolysis. This study investigates the progression and morphological changes in lignocellulose fibers throughout enzymatic hydrolysis, using (transmission electron microscopy) TEM and field emission scanning electron microscopy (FE-SEM). Softwood thermo-mechanical pulp (STMP) and softwood bleached kraft pulp (SBKP), lignocellulose substrates containing almost all the original fiber composition, and with lignin and some hemicellulose removed, respectively, was compared for morphology changes throughout hydrolysis. The difference of conversion between STMP and SBKP after 48 h of enzymatic hydrolysis is 11 and 88%, respectively. TEM images revealed an even fiber cell wall cross section density, with uneven middle lamella coverage in STMP fibers. SKBP fibers exhibited some spaces between cell wall and lamella layers due to the removal of lignin and some hemicellulose. After 1 h hydrolysis in SBKP fibers, there were more changes in the fiber cross-sectional area than after 10 h hydrolysis in STMP fibers. Cell wall degradation was uneven, and originated in accessible cellulose throughout the fiber cell wall. FE-SEM images illustrated more morphology changes in SBKP fibers than STMP fibers. Enzymatic action of STMP fiber resulted in a smoother fiber surface, along with fiber peeling and the formation of ribbon-disjunction layers. SBKP fibers exhibited structural changes such as fiber erosion, fiber cutting, and fiber splitting throughout enzymatic hydrolysis. © 2012 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 2012