Improvement of biomass pre-treatment techniques
The development of second-generation biofuels requires the development of technologies including pretreatment of cellulosic biomass and fermentation of sugars.
The use of ionic liquids to dissolve lignocellulose and later to facilitate hydrolysis into sugars is promising but comes at very high costs. Additionally, scientists know little about how ionic liquids work.
Understanding how ionic liquids are able to dissolve lignocellulosic biomass should help identify new compounds that would be applicable to biofuels.
American researchers from the Joint BioEnergy Institute have developed a new technique. Based on the natural autofluorescence of plant cell walls, this technique makes it possible to dynamically monitor the solubilization during a pretreatment of
biomass with ionic liquids, and assess the performance of the liquid.