Enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulose after pretreatment of wheat straw (WS) was investigated for the first time in relation to lignin surface area (SA). Lignin SA in solid residues from WS autohydrolysis (AH) and successive NH3 (aq) extraction was determined using cationic dye adsorption. AH at increasing severity decreased up to 45% and 53% of WS lignin SA and specific surface area (SSA), respectively. Cellulose-to-glucose conversion from AH solid fractions from 24 h reaction with 15 FPU g−1 cellulase activity increased linearly from 31% to 91% with decreasing lignin SA. When AH solid fractions were extracted with NH3 (aq), both lignin SA and SSA increased in the corresponding solid residues, SSA up to 92%. As a consequence, cellulose-to-glucose conversion decreased in spite of the lower proportion of lignin in the solid residues after the NH3 (aq) extraction. Up to 85% sugar yield was obtained from the single-stage AH process but when combined with NH3 (aq) extraction the two-stage process yielded at most 71% of the original straw sugars. These results show that, independent of the lignin content, reduction of surface area of lignin improves the enzymatic hydrolysis process.
- Surface area
- Wheat straw