In this paper, various process parameters aiming at optimal short-time-high-temperature (STHT) process were studied upon fractionation of Nordic woody biomass into its primary constituents. Highly diluted, aqueous ‘SO2-switched’ switchable ionic liquid (SIL) based on an alkanol amine (monoethanol amine, MEA) and an organic superbase (1,8-diazabicyclo-[5.4.0]-undec-7-ene, DBU) was applied. The ultimate goal was to develop a more sustainable, environmentally friendly and cost efficient systems for efficient separation of the lignocellulosic fractions. One of the main products from the SIL fractionation is cellulose-rich pulp with very low lignin content, complemented with hemicelluloses. The NMR results reveal that substantial removal of lignin occurs even when relatively low amount of SIL was used. Further, a simple mathematical model describing the dissolution of the lignocellulose components (hemicellulose and lignin) and weight loss of wood as a function of time is described. Moreover, the most efficient process involved the use of SpinChem® rotating bed reactor while upon use of a flow through (loop) reactor, promising results were obtained at a treatment time of 4 h. Still, all the reactor systems studied gave rise to a rather low removal of hemicelluloses which mean that the solvent system is primary selective towards lignin dissolution.
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