The production of cellulosic biofuels often leaves behind solid residues, which can be converted to useful co-products via chemical modification and processing. The objective of this study was to examine the changes in hydroxyl accessibility of a hardwood after the extraction of fermentable sugars (saccharification). Saccharification was performed on milled and dilute-acid pretreated aspen wood and resulted in a glucan-to-glucose conversion of 91%. The unhydrolyzed (solid) fraction was then analyzed for hydroxyl availability using an acetylation method, and the data were related to information of accessible pore volume evaluated using nitrogen adsorption. Different pore volumes were also created by oven-, air-, or freeze-drying of the samples. The results showed that more hydroxyls are available if the physical accessibility (pore volume) of a given substrate is better preserved. Upon saccharification, the accessible hydroxyls were reduced by at least half of that in untreated wood, while the specific pore volume increased 10 times. This finding suggests that future strategies for utilizing saccharification residues for co-products should tap the increased porosity and lower polarity of the substrate.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This project was supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the United States Department of Agriculture, grant number 2011-67009-20063.
- Biochemical conversion
- Chemical modification
- Hydroxyl number
- Pore volume