The transformations of cellulose after concentrated sulfuric acid treatment and its impact on the enzymatic saccharification

Biotechnol Biofuels Bioprod. 2023 Mar 4;16(1):36. doi: 10.1186/s13068-023-02293-4.


BACKGROUND: The dense structure of cellulose lowers its reactivity and hinders its applications. Concentrated sulfuric acid is an ideal solvent to dissolve cellulose and thus has been used widely to treat cellulose. However, the changes of cellulose after reaction with concentrated sulfuric acid at near-limit S/L ratio and its effect on enzymatic saccharification still need further investigation.

RESULTS: In this study, the interactions between cellulose (Avicel) and 72% sulfuric acid at very low acid loading conditions of 1:2 to 1:3 (S/L ratio) were studied for the enhanced production of glucose. The Avicel gradually transformed from cellulose I structure to cellulose II structure during the sulfuric acid treatment. Other physicochemical characteristics of Avicel also changed dramatically, such as the degree of polymerization, particle size, crystallinity index, and surface morphology. After acid treatment, both the yield and productivity of glucose from cellulose increased significantly under a very low enzyme loading of 5 FPU/g-cellulose. The glucose yields for raw cellulose and acid-treated (30 min) were 57% and 85%, respectively.

CONCLUSION: Low loadings of concentrated sulfuric acid were proven to be effective to break the recalcitrance of cellulose for enzymatic saccharification. A positive correlation between cellulose CrI and glucose yield was found for concentrated sulfuric acid-treated cellulose, which was opposite to previous reports. Cellulose II content was found to be an important factor that affects the conversion of cellulose to glucose.

PMID:36869393 | PMC:PMC9985267 | DOI:10.1186/s13068-023-02293-4


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