Role of Solvents in Efficient Biomass Deconstruction
Understand the effect of tetrahydrofuran (THF)-water pretreatment on the nanoscale architecture ofbiomass and the role the co-solvents play in solubilizing lignin and cellulose.
In-situ small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) with contrast variation and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations were performed to characterize the biomass structure and the interactions of solvents with biomass components.
- In situ SANS determined temperature-dependent changes in biomass morphology: Whereas lignin dissociates over a wide temperature range (>25oC) cellulose disruption occurs only above 150 °C.
- SANS with contrast variation and MD simulations provide direct evidence for the formation of THF-rich nanoclusters (~0.5 nm) on the nonpolar cellulose surfaces and on hydrophobic lignin, and equivalent water-rich nanoclusters on polar cellulose surfaces.
Direct experimental and computational evidence of a simple physical chemical principle that explains the success of mixing an organic cosolvent, tetrahydrofuran, with water to overcome this recalcitrance. The hydrophilic and hydrophobic biomass surfaces are solvated by single-component nanoclusters of complementary polarity.
, S. V., et al. 2020. “Deconstruction of Biomass Enabled by Local Demixing of Cosolvents at Cellulose and Lignin Surfaces,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA