Sandia researchers with the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have reported the first demonstration of a one-pot, wash-free, process for the ionic liquid pretreatment and saccharification of switchgrass. Using an imidazolium-based ionic liquid pretreatment, the Sandia team was able to liberate 81.2% glucose and 87.4% xylose over the course of a 72 hour processing cycle at 70 °C. They were then able to separate the sugars at better than 90% efficiency.
This process eliminates the excessive use of water and waste disposal currently associated with washing biomass that is pretreated with ionic liquids, drastically simplifies the downstream sugar/lignin recovery process, and enables the ionic liquid to be recycled—all factors that help drive down biofuel production costs.
Read the JBEI news release.