In this study, fermentable sugars and cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) were co-produced from endoglucanase treatment of wood pulp, followed by acid hydrolysis. Enzymatic hydrolysis was performed using two endoglucanases differentiated by the presence or absence of a cellulose-binding domain (CBD). The enzyme with an intact CBD gave the higher glucan conversion (up to 14.1 ± 1.2 wt %) and improved the degree of crystallinity of the recovered wood pulp fiber (up to 83.0 ± 1.0%). Thus, this endoglucanase-assisted treatment successfully removed amorphous content from the original cellulosic feedstock. CNC recovery (16.9 ± 0.7 wt %) from the feedstock going into the acid hydrolysis was improved relative to untreated pulp (13.2 ± 0.6 wt %). The mass loss from enzymatic treatment did not cause a decrease in the CNC yield from the starting material. The characteristics of CNCs obtained through acid hydrolysis (with or without enzyme treatment of pulp) were analyzed using X-ray diffraction, transmission electron microscopy, dynamic light scattering, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and differential scanning calorimetry as characterization techniques. The CNCs generated through acid hydrolysis of endoglucanase-treated wood pulp displayed comparable properties relative to those generated using untreated pulp. Thus, endoglucanase treatment can enable co-production of CNCs and sugars for biofuel fermentation.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited