The supramolecular structure of cellulose-rich wood pulps can be a determinative factor for enzymatic hydrolysability
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The enzymatic hydrolysability of three industrial pulps, five lab made pulps, and one microcrystalline cellulose powder was assessed using commercial cellulolytic enzymes. To gain insight into the factors that influence the hydrolysability, a thorough characterization of the samples was done, including their chemical properties (cellulose content, hemicellulose content, lignin content, and kappa number), their macromolecular properties (peak molar mass, number-average molar mass, weight-average molar mass, polydispersity, and limiting viscosity) and their supramolecular properties (fibre saturation point, specific surface area, average pore size, and crystallinity). The hydrolysability was assessed by determination of initial conversion rate and final conversion yield, with conversion yield defined as the amount of glucose in solution per unit of glucose in the substrate. Multivariate data analysis revealed that for the investigated samples the conversion of cellulose to glucose was mainly dependent on the supramolecular properties, such as specific surface area and average pore size. The molar mass distribution, the crystallinity, and the lignin content of the pulps had no significant effect on the hydrolysability of the investigated samples.
KeywordsAverage pore size Cellulolytic enzymes Multivariate data analysis Specific surface area Wood pulp
We thank Ann Olsson (Innventia AB) for determination of the carbohydrate composition and lignin content. This work was funded by the Swedish Research Council (VR) under the scheme for strategic energy research (No. 621-2010-3788), by the Chalmers Energy Initiative, and by RISE Research Institutes of Sweden.
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