A brief summary and critique of

Autohydrolysis of Hardwoods
Autohydrolysis of Hardwoods
This article from Elsevier explores the kinetics as well as mechanisms involved in the
autohydrolysis of the hardwoods. The process of autohydrolysis uses water and is a promising technology
especially in the extraction of hemicellulose from the hardwoods before production of pulp (pulping). The
autohydrolysis process produces pulp alongside other vital co-products such as acetic acid and ethanol.
This article explains the process used in performing kinetic and mechanism analysis for autohydrolysis
using the continuous mix flow reactor. The article contrasts its analysis with the previous work by other
researchers who have been using the batch reactors in the analysis of the kinetics and mechanisms in
autohydrolysis. In the study by (Lawoko & Heiningen, 2010) the hardwood chips are reserved in the
basket secured in the reactor. The study used a well-modeled reactor that was efficient in determining the
intrinsic kinetics of the hemicellulose dissolution. The reactor allowed a quick elimination of the
dissolved products. Therefore, there are minimal chances of the degradation as well as further
hemicellulose hydrolysis inside the solution. The rate of xylan removal assumes an S-shaped pattern. The
GPC analysis for the constant extract elimination shows that dissolved xylan oligomers (Lawoko &
Heiningen, 2010) indicates a lesser DP than nearly 25. The lignin withouth xylan oligomers, as well as
the oligomers of cellulose, constitute the main composition in the dissolved materials at the initial
autohydrolysis stage. However, the xylan-lignin (covalently bonded) makes the major compound
eliminated during the later autohydrolysis stage. The molecular weight of the dissolved compounds
reduces with time during the 2nd autohydrolysis stage.
There has been an increase in the price of the fuel all over the world. The biofuels have been
perceived as one of the most promising solutions to the fuel and energy crisis. However, the conversion of
woody biomass into usable biofuel has been regarded as one of the most challenging issues. Mainly, the
conversion of the structural polysaccharides into fermentable simple sugars (monosaccharides) has been
quoted as the major challenge. The autohydrolysis technique gives a glimpse to the promising technology
for cheaper, safe and efficient production of biofuel as well as the pulp. In the process, the only solvent
used is steam water. Therefore, the process is cheap and environmentally friendly. Moreover, the acetic
acid is formed as a co-product of the pulp. The ethanoic acid is created from the O-acetyl groups found in
the polysaccharides (Lawoko & Heiningen, 2010) such as cellulose, and it is significant in lowering the
pH of the dissolved extract.
The authors outline a simple and precise experiment for analyzing kinetics and mechanism for the
autohydrolysis of the hardwoods. The raw materials used in the experiment is a combination of southern
hardwood chips obtained from 15% maple, , 35% oak, 3% southern magnolia ,12% sycamore and poplar,
and 35% sweet & black gum. After air-drying the chips, the continuous mixed batch system was used
extraction of the products. The lignin extraction followed a zero order reaction while the xylan removal
followed an S-shaped behavior. The xylan and lignin removal is much higher in the CMBR (Continuous
Mixed Batch Reactor) system than in other initial methods. Therefore, this article illustrates a more
efficient production of biofuel from hardwoods as opposed to the previous studies.
The article is characterized with two significances; first, it solves the challenge of extracting the
biofuel from the structurally complex hardwood components. Secondly, the author illustrates the process
of autohydrolysis which uses the cheap, and environmentally friendly raw materials. For instance,
steamed water is used as the major solvent; the rate of pollution is reduced. A future experiment derived
from this experiment may target the reduction of the extraction time or methods of increasing the
percentage yield of the biofuel products in the CMBR system. The article is significant to the class of
Chemical Reactor Engineering’ since it illustrates the function and components of the CMBR system.
Moreover, the article involves several analysis of the chemical composition of the products after
autohydrolysis of the hardwoods. Therefore, it gives an idea of the efficiency of the CMBR system in
extraction of biofuel from the hardwoods.
Lawoko, M., & Heiningen, A. v. (2010). Kinetics and Mechanisms of autohydrolysis of hardwoods.
Elsevier, 78127819.

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