Chemical and Structural Effects on the Rate of Xylan Hydrolysis during Dilute Acid Pretreatment of Poplar Wood

Ashutosh Mittal, Heidi Pilath, Yves Parent, Bryon Donohoe, John Yarbrough, Stuart Black, Michael Himmel, Mark Nimlos, David Johnson, Siddharth Chatterjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus Citations


Economic biofuel production requires high sugar yields during biomass pretreatment, however, the chemical and structural features of biomass can be obstructive toward efficient xylose hydrolysis. Here, we tested the hindrance imposed by the multiscale structure of biomass on the hydrolysis of xylan during dilute acid pretreatment by studying the effects of both the chemical nature of xylan and physical structure of biomass. Dilute acid pretreatment of poplar wood at particle sizes ranging from 10 μm to 10 mm was conducted, however, no significant differences in the rates of xylan hydrolysis were observed over more than 2 orders of magnitude in particle size. A significant reduction in the rate of xylan hydrolysis was observed when compared to the intrinsic rate of hydrolysis for isolated xylan. Thus, it appears likely that the chemical structure of xylan and/or the interaction of xylan with other polymers in the cell wall matrix have greater effects on xylan hydrolysis rates than mass transfer limitations.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)4842-4850
Number of pages9
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - 4 Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright 2019 American Chemical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2700-72306


  • Kinetics
  • Mass transfer
  • Particle size
  • Pretreatment
  • Transmission electron microscopy
  • Xylan


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