, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 1153–1163 | Cite as

Sulfolane pretreatment of shrub willow to improve enzymatic saccharification

  • Kui Wang
  • Xinfeng Xie
  • Jianchun JiangEmail author
  • Jingxin WangEmail author
Original Paper


Pretreatment has been regarded as the most efficient strategy for conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to fermentable sugars. In this work, sulfolane pretreatment was performed to break the intricate structure of shrub willow for inhabitation of the enzymatic accessibility to holocellulose. The effects of varying pretreatment parameters on enzymatic hydrolysis of shrub willow were investigated. It was found that sulfolane was more compatible with lignin instead of carbohydrate, and the loss of carbohydrate could be attributed to water and acid generated from sulfolane. The optimum conditions leading to maximal sugar recovery from enzymatic saccharification were confirmed. After pretreatment of shrub willow powder in sulfolane at 170 °C for 1.5 h with mass ratio of sulfolane to substrate of 5, the sugar release could reach 555 mg/g raw materials (352 mg glucose, 203 mg xylose) when combining 20 FPU cellulase, 20 CBU β-glucosidase, and 1.5 FXU xylanase, representing 78.2 % of glucose and 56.6 % of xylose in shrub willow. This enhanced enzymatic saccharification was due to delignification and removal of a proportion of hemicelluloses, as confirmed by X-ray diffraction analysis, scanning electron microscopy, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, thermogravimetric analysis, gas chromatography, and ionic chromatography. Thus, these studies prove sulfolane pretreatment to be an effective and promising approach for biomass to biofuel processing.


Shrub willow Sulfolane Pretreatment Delignification Enzymatic hydrolysis 



Filter paper units


Cellobiase units


Farvet xylan units



The authors would like to acknowledge the National Key Technology R&D Program of China (2015BAD15B06), Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province (grant no. BK20151068), and a research grant from Jiangsu Province Biomass Energy and Materials Laboratory (JSBEM-S-201502) for financial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Chemical Industry of Forest ProductsCAFNanjingChina
  2. 2.National Engineering Laboratory for Biomass Chemical UtilizationNanjingChina
  3. 3.Jiangsu Province Biomass Energy and Materials LaboratoryNanjingChina
  4. 4.Division of Forestry and Natural ResourcesWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA

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