, Volume 28-29, Issue 1, pp 59-74

The ammonia freeze explosion (AFEX) process

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The Ammonia Freeze Explosion (AFEX) process treats lignocellulose with high-pressure liquid ammonia, and then explosively releases the pressure. The combined chemical effect (cellulose decrystallization) and physical effect (increased accessible surface area) dramatically increase lignocellulose susceptibility to enzymatic attack. There are many adjustable parameters in the AFEX process: ammonia loading, water loading, temperature, time, blowdown pressure, and number of treatments. The effect of these parameters on enzymatic susceptibility was explored for three materials: Coastal bermudagrass, bagasse, and newspaper. Nearly quantitative sugar yields were demonstrated for Coastal bermudagrass and bagasse, using a very low enzyme loading (5 IU/g). Newspaper proved to be much more resistant to enzymatic hydrolysis.