Available Technology

Tunable pH Ionic Liquids for Pretreatment of Lignocellulosic Materials 2015-096

Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have developed an effective biomass pretreatment technology using acidic to basic pH range ionic liquids (ILs) without additional processing. Due the efficiency of a selecting specific pH suitable to process conditions for desired product recovery, the technology reduces pretreatment costs. JBEI’s novel ILs are based on cholinium [Ch] and ethanolamine [EA] as a cation with multiple anion combinations. ILs in pH values ranging from acidic to very basic properties displayed strong performance for lignin removal and glucose yield. For instance, after pretreatment, simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) was performed and resulted in 85% glucose and 35% xylose yield from switchgrass. Conversion of lignocellulosic biomass into alternative fuels and chemicals requires cost reductions and process integration in biorefineries. Physicochemical qualities of biomass make the transformation difficult. ILs offer unique solvation properties, but can be expensive and require severe conditions and complex systems. The JBEI technology is an effective pretreatment technology that does not require additional processing and controls biocompatibility and enzyme tolerance sufficiently. Additionally, it involves ILs that perform efficiently in specific process conditions and are useful for the selective degradation of lignin and for catalysis. The technology is an ideal asset for the biorefinery industry because of its effective, streamlined process that greatly lowers the pretreatment cost.
Benefits: 
Effectively controls biocompatibility and enzyme tolerance - Operates at less severe conditions - Increases sugar yield - Reduces pretreatment cost
applications: 
Patent Status: 
Patent pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
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