The fractionation of lignocellulosic biomass to its major components is the primary step towards the conversion of biomass-based biopolymers to commodity chemicals in the integrated biorefinery process. Wood chips encased in a SpinChem® device and attached to the stirrer of a batch autoclave were used together with switchable ionic liquids (SILs) for the selective fractionation of hemicelluloses and lignin. Stirring of the wood chips in the SpinChem® device facilitated the diffusion of SIL into the chips through forced recirculation and at the same time avoiding mechanical fibrillation. The treatment of birch chips (Betula pendula) with SILs comprising 1,8-diazabicyclo-[5.4.0]-undec-7-ene (DBU), monoethanolamine (MEA) and CO2 at 120 °C in a SpinChem® device resulted in the fractionation of 82 wt.% hemicelluloses and 90 wt.% lignin, leaving the cellulose-rich non-dissolved material partially fibrillated and softened. The dissolved hemicelluloses and lignin were selectively precipitated using isopropanol and recovered from the spent SIL.
- SpinChem device
- Switchable ionic liquids (SILs)
- Birch chips
- Power draw