Pretreatment of lignocellulosic municipal solid waste by ammonia fiber explosion (AFEX)
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The Ammonia Fiber 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. For example, bagasse digestibility is increased 5.5 times and that of kenaf core is increased 11 times using extracellular cellulases fromTrichoderma reesei. In this study, we applied the AFEX process to mixed municipal solid waste (MSW) and individual components (e.g., softwood newspaper, kenaf newspaper, copy paper, paper towels, cereal boxes, paper bags, corrugated boxes, magazines, and waxed paper). Softwood newspaper proved to be the most difficult component to digest because of its high lignin content. A combination of oxidative lignin cleavage and AFEX was required to increase softwood newspaper digestibility substantially, whereas AFEX alone was able to make kenaf newspaper digestible. Because most MSW components have been substantially delignified in the paper-making process, AFEX only marginally increased their digestibility.