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Chemical and structural factors influencing enzymatic saccharification of wood from aspen, birch and spruce

Wang, Zhao, Winestrand, Sandra, Gillgren, Thomas, Jönsson, Leif J.
Biomass and bioenergy 2018 v.109 pp. 125-134
Betula, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, Picea, Populus, acetic acid, alkaline hydrolysis, biofuels, biorefining, cellulose, chemical composition, crystal structure, crystallites, data collection, feedstocks, fluorescence microscopy, formic acid, lignin, liquids, saccharification, scanning electron microscopy, uronic acids, wood
The susceptibility of untreated and sulfuric-acid-pretreated aspen, birch, and spruce to analytical enzymatic saccharification was studied in relation to their chemical composition and physical-structural features. The analytical data collected covered the mass fractions of lignin, carbohydrates, and extractives, the release of acetic acid, formic acid, and uronic acids by acid and alkaline hydrolysis, crystallinity and crystallite size, syringyl: guaiacyl (S:G) ratio of lignin, cellulose accessibility, FTIR spectra, images from SEM and fluorescence microscopy, and susceptibility to enzymatic saccharification using enzyme mixtures with and without supplementary xylanase.In the absence of pretreatment the mass fraction yield of Glc on the original dry wood in the analytical enzymatic saccharification increased in the order birch (16 g kg−1) < spruce (35 g kg−1) < aspen (150 g kg−1). After acid pretreatment, the order changed to spruce (170 g kg−1) < aspen (290 g kg−1), birch (290 g kg−1). The relatively high recalcitrance of untreated birch was not possible to relate to mass fraction of lignin, S:G ratio, cellulose crystallinity, or mass fraction of acetyl, but rather to structural features, such as a more compact surface structure with high density and low cellulose accessibility. The relatively high sugar yields from both untreated and pretreated aspen suggest that aspen wood is well suited as feedstock for production of liquid biofuels and green chemicals in forest-based biorefineries.