Chemical Engineering and Industrial Chemistry

Technical and economic performance of the dithionite-assisted organosolv fractionation of lignocellulosic biomass



The development of biomass pretreatment approaches that, next to (hemi)cellulose valorization, aim at the conversion of lignin to chemicals is essential for the long-term success of a biorefinery. Herein, we discuss a dithionite-assisted organosolv fractionation (DAOF) of lignocellulose in n-butanol and water to produce cellulosic pulp and mono-/oligo-aromatics. The present study frames the technicalities of this biorefinery process and relates them to the features of the obtained product streams. Via the extensive characterization of the solid pulp (by acid hydrolysis-HPLC, ATR-FTIR, XRD, SEM and enzymatic hydrolysis-HPLC), of lignin derivatives (by GPC, GC-MS/FID, 1H-13C HSQC NMR, and ICP-AES) and of carbohydrate derivatives (by HPLC) we comprehensively identify and quantify the different products of interest. These results were used for inspecting the economic feasibility of DAOF. The adoption of a dithionite loading of 16.7% w/wbiomass and of an equivolumetric mixture of n-butanol and water, which led to a high yield of monophenolics (~20%, based on acid insoluble lignin, for the treatment of birch sawdust), was identified as the most profitable process configuration. Furthermore, the treatment of various lignocellulosic feedstocks was explored, which showed that DAOF is particularly effective for processing hardwood and herbaceous biomass. Overall, this study provides a comprehensive view of the development of an effective dithionite-assisted organosolv fractionation method for the sustainable upgrading of lignocellulosic biomass.


Thumbnail image of Debecker Lignin dithionite - preprint.pdf

Supplementary material

Thumbnail image of Debecker Lignin dithionite - preprint - ESI.pdf
ESI Brienza et al
experimental details and supplementary figures and tables