Using ionic liquids for biomass pretreatment has gotten much cheaper and less carbon-intensive

We have a new paper out in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering on the life-cycle greenhouse gas and water-intensity of producing cellulosic ethanol using ionic liquids for biomass pretreatment. This technology has come a long, long way in the past few years, in no small part because of the work done by Seema Singh and her group. By using ILs that are compatible with enzymes used during saccharification, biorefineries can now use a “one pot” deconstruction approach. This means far less water used to wash the ILs out of the pretreated biomass, and consequently, far less energy required to recover all of the (fairly expensive) ILs. We put together a life-cycle GHG and water use inventory, led by Binod Neupane and Murthy Konda, and found that recent developments put IL-based biorefineries on the same footing as the well-known dilute acid route. Great job, Binod and Murthy! The paper can be accessed here.

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