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Fast and efficient nanoshear hybrid alkaline pretreatment of corn stover for biofuel and materials production.

Biomass and Bioenergy, Volume 51, April 2013, Pages 35-42.
Wei Wang, Shaowen Ji, Ilsoon Lee.

Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Michigan State University, 2527 Engineering Building, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.




We report a fast and efficient nano-scale shear hybrid alkaline (NSHA) pretreatment method of lignocellulosic biomass. In this work, corn stover was pretreated in a modified Taylor–Couette reactor with alkali (sodium hydroxide) at room temperature for two minutes. Up to 82% of high cellulose content in the remaining solids was achieved with the novel NSHA pretreatment process. Compared with untreated corn stover, an approximately 4-fold increase in enzymatic cellulose conversion and a 5-fold increase in hemicellulose conversion were achieved. Compositional analysis proved significant removals of both lignin and hemicellulose after the NSHA pretreatment. SEM images revealed that the synergistic effect of NSHA pretreatment caused the severe disruption of biomass structure and exposure of cellulose microfibril aggregates in NSHA pretreated corn stover.

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Additional Information

Nanoshear hybrid pretreatment process is fully developed to achieve the cost-effective and efficient breakdown of crystalline cellulose and disintegration of biomass materials. Mild processing temperature and fast processing time enables this promising process suitable for enhancing the production of pulps, value-added chemicals, and biofuels from biomass. The high shear force from a modified Taylor-Couette mixing reactor facilitates the homogeneous solid/liquid phase mixing, contributing to the improved accessibility of pretreated materials and fractionation of individual components.

The research work based on this hybrid process has shown great potential in many industrial applications, such as biorefinery which maximizes the values of various components derived from biomass, papermaking which requires the efficient separation of lignin and hemicellulose from cellulose fiber, biofuel production which needs the liberation of cellulose and hemicellulose from lignin seal in the biomass for the subsequent hydrolysis step, and enzyme production which targets the lignocellulosic waste as substrate. Our process has promoted the pretreatment production with respect to high efficiency, low cost, and easy operation.

For more information on our research, please see the US Patent Application (US 2012/0036765 A1).  Additional examples in different applications can be found below.

  1. Wang, W.; Ji, S.; Lee, I. “Fast and efficient nanoshear hybrid alkaline pretreatment of corn stover for biofuel and materials production,” Biomass and Bioenergy 51, 35–42, (2013).
  2. Ji, S.; Lee, I. “Impact of Cationic Polyelectrolyte on the Nanoshear Hybrid Alkaline Pretreatment of Corn Stover: Morphology and Saccharification Study,” Bioresource Technology 133, 45-50, (2013).
  3. Gokhale, A. A.; Lu, J.; Lee, I. “Polyelectrolyte-modified, Magnetoresponsive Graphene Nano-scaffolds for Cellulase Immobilization,” Journal of Molecular Catalysis B: Enzymatic 90, 76-86, (2013).
  4. Lu, J.; Weerasiri1, R.R.; Liu, Y.; Wang, W; Ji, S.; Lee, I. “Enzyme Production by the Mixed Fungal Culture with Nanoshear Pretreated Biomass and Lignocellulose Hydrolysis,” Biotechnology and Bioengineering, In press (DOI: 10.1002/bit.24883), (2013).
  5. Lu, J.; Weerasiri, R. R.; Lee, I. “Carbon Nanotubes Tuned Foam Structures as Novel Nanostructured Biocarriers for Lignocellulose Hydrolysis,” Biotechnology Letters 35(2), 181-188, (2013).
  6. Gokhale, A. A.; Lee, I. “Cellulase Immobilized Nanostructured Supports for Efficient Saccharification of Cellulosic Substrates,” Topics in Catalysis 55(16), 1231-1246, (2012).


Fast and efficient nanoshear hybrid alkaline pretreatment of corn stover for biofuel and materials production