APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Paper/pulping and cellulosic biofuel industry (i.e. delignification and fiber modification)
- Capable of producing more than 90% of fermentable sugars
- Utilizes lignocellulosic biomass to its maximum potential
- Metal based DESs (mDESs) act as both solvent and catalyst
- Simultaneous conversion of carbohydrates and lignin to fermentable sugars and high value chemicals, respectively, holds the key to the success of biorefineries and adds revenue to the pulp/paper industry. Notably, deep eutectic solvents (DESs) have received increasing interest because of their ability in fractionation and depolymerization of lignocellulosic biomass. This is advantageous in comparison to other ionic liquids (ILs) and DESs, which do not depolymerize lignin and therefore require the use of additional enzymes to do so.
Researchers at Berkeley Lab have synthesized new mDESs for biomass pretreatment and lignin depolymerization. DESs are intrinsically cheaper than many ILs due to low precursor cost and simple synthesis, and yet retain the chemical properties of ILs.
A portfolio of mDESs was synthesized, characterized, and screened for biomass fractionation, lignin solubility, and selectivity on lignin depolymerization. Researchers observed that certain mDESs are capable of producing more than 90% of fermentable sugars. For example, results illustrated a glucose and xylose yield of 96.3 and 82.9%, respectively, using ethylene glycol: ZnCl2 (4:1).
This is promising biomass deconstruction technology owing to high fermentable sugar yields and lignin fractionation. The most attractive aspect is the in situ lignin conversion in mDESs, which helps to overcome the challenges associated with DES recycle and recovery. Ultimately, the present approach will help to facilitate the production of valuable chemicals and to augment economic viability.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle
STATUS: Patent pending.
OPPORTUNITIES: Available for licensing or collaborative research.
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