Features of promising technologies for pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass
Cellulosic plant material represents an as-of-yet untapped source of fermentable sugars for significant industrial use. Many physio-chemical structural and compositional factors hinder the enzymatic digestibility of cellulose present in lignocellulosic biomass. The goal of any pretreatment technology is to alter or remove structural and compositional impediments to hydrolysis in order to improve the rate of enzyme hydrolysis and increase yields of fermentable sugars from cellulose or hemicellulose. These methods cause physical and/or chemical changes in the plant biomass in order to achieve this result. Experimental investigation of physical changes and chemical reactions that occur during pretreatment is required for the development of effective and mechanistic models that can be used for the rational design of pretreatment processes. Furthermore, pretreatment processing conditions must be tailored to the specific chemical and structural composition of the various, and variable, sources of lignocellulosic biomass. This paper reviews process parameters and their fundamental modes of action for promising pretreatment methods.