Influence of physico-chemical changes on enzymatic digestibility of ionic liquid and AFEX pretreated corn stover

Chenlin Li, Gang Cheng, Venkatesh Balan, Michael S. Kent, Markus Ong, Shishir P.S. Chundawat, Leonardo da Costa Sousa, Yuri B. Melnichenko, Bruce E. Dale, Blake A. Simmons, Seema Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

192 Scopus citations


Ionic liquid (IL) and ammonia fiber expansion (AFEX) pretreatments were studied to develop the first direct side-by-side comparative assessment on their respective impacts on biomass structure, composition, process mass balance, and enzymatic saccharification efficiency. AFEX pretreatment completely preserves plant carbohydrates, whereas IL pretreatment extracts 76% of hemicellulose. In contrast to AFEX, the native crystal structure of the recovered corn stover from IL pretreatment was significantly disrupted. For both techniques, more than 70% of the theoretical sugar yield was attained after 48 h of hydrolysis using commercial enzyme cocktails. IL pretreatment requires less enzyme loading and a shorter hydrolysis time to reach 90% yields. Hemicellulase addition led to significant improvements in the yields of glucose and xylose for AFEX pretreated corn stover, but not for IL pretreated stover. These results provide new insights into the mechanisms of IL and AFEX pretreatment, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6928-6936
Number of pages9
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal


  • AFEX
  • Crystallinity
  • Enzymatic saccharification
  • Ionic liquid
  • Surface area


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