Enhancement of cellulose saccharification kinetics using an ionic liquid pretreatment step
Hydrolysis of cellulose to glucose in aqueous media catalyzed by the cellulase enzyme system suffers from slow reaction rates due in large part to the highly crystalline structure of cellulose and inaccessibility of enzyme adsorption sites. In this study, an attempt was made to disrupt the cellulose structure using the ionic liquid (IL), 1-n-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride, in a cellulose regeneration strategy which accelerated the subsequent hydrolysis reaction. ILs are a new class of non-volatile solvents that exhibit unique solvating properties. They can be tuned to dissolve a wide variety of compounds including cellulose. Because of their extremely low volatility, ILs are expected to have minimal environmental impact on air quality compared to most other volatile solvent systems. The initial enzymatic hydrolysis rates were approximately 50-fold higher for regenerated cellulose as compared to untreated cellulose (Avicel PH-101) as measured by a soluble reducing sugar assay. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.