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Open Access Research

Elucidation of the effect of ionic liquid pretreatment on rice husk via structural analyses

Teck Nam Ang1, Gek Cheng Ngoh1*, Adeline Seak May Chua1 and Min Gyu Lee2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Malaya, 50603, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2 Division of Applied Chemical Engineering, Pukyong National University, Busan, 608-739, South Korea

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Biotechnology for Biofuels 2012, 5:67  doi:10.1186/1754-6834-5-67

Published: 7 September 2012

Abstract

Background

In the present study, three ionic liquids, namely 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride ([BMIM]Cl), 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate ([EMIM]OAc), and 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium diethyl phosphate ([EMIM]DEP), were used to partially dissolve rice husk, after which the cellulose were regenerated by the addition of water. The aim of the investigation is to examine the implications of the ionic liquid pretreatments on rice husk composition and structure.

Results

From the attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform-infrared (ATR FT-IR) spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction (XRD) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) results, the regenerated cellulose were more amorphous, less crystalline, and possessed higher structural disruption compared with untreated rice husk. The major component of regenerated cellulose from [BMIM]Cl and [EMIM]DEP pretreatments was cellulose-rich material, while cellulose regenerated from [EMIM]OAc was a matrix of cellulose and lignin. Cellulose regenerated from ionic pretreatments could be saccharified via enzymatic hydrolysis, and resulted in relatively high reducing sugars yields, whereas enzymatic hydrolysis of untreated rice husk did not yield reducing sugars. Rice husk residues generated from the ionic liquid pretreatments had similar chemical composition and amorphousity to that of untreated rice husk, but with varying extent of surface disruption and swelling.

Conclusions

The structural architecture of the regenerated cellulose and rice husk residues showed that they could be used for subsequent fermentation or derivation of cellulosic compounds. Therefore, ionic liquid pretreatment is an alternative in the pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass in addition to the conventional chemical pretreatments.

Keywords:
Rice husk; Ionic liquid; Dissolution; Pretreatment; Regenerated cellulose; Structural analysis