Co-Production of Bioethanol and Cellulose Nanocrystals from Woody Biomass

Jing (Janet) Dai, Dawit Beyene, Michael Chae and David Bressler.
Biorefining Conversions and Fermentation Laboratory, Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta.

Cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) are biomaterials with high added value, which have high strength and stiffness, high aspect ratio, low density, and are biodegradable. In this study, CNCs were produced from steam treated poplar by acid hydrolysis. The biomass was first treated with two enzyme systems: one is an enzyme cocktail and the other is a mixture of endoglucanase/ß-glucosidase. The enzymatic hydrolysates were used for bioethanol fermentation. The residue solids were then bleached and used for CNCs extraction. Enzyme activity, pH, and loading tests of the two enzyme systems were evaluated. To understand how much amorphous cellulose was degraded by the enzymes, crystallinity of solid residues was studied by X-ray diffraction and the results were also compared with CNCs yield.