In recent years, much attention has been devoted to the possibility of using lignocellulosic biomass for energy. Bioethanol is a promising substitute for conventional fossil fuels and can be produced from straw and wood biomass. Therefore, the aim of this paper was to investigate the effect of 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium pretreatment on the structure of cellulose and the acquisition of reducing sugars and bioethanol from cellulosic materials. Material used in the study was rye straw and microcrystalline cellulose subjected to ionic liquid 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium pretreatment. The morphology of cellulose fibres in rye straw and microcrystalline cellulose was imaged prior to and after ionic liquid pretreatment. Solutions of ionic liquid-treated and untreated cellulosic materials were subjected to enzymatic hydrolysis in order to obtain reducing sugars, which constituted a substrate for alcoholic fermentation. An influence of the ionic liquid on the cellulose structure, accumulation of reducing sugars in the process of hydrolysis of this material, and an increase in ethanol amount after fermentation was observed. The ionic liquid did not affect cellulolytic enzymes negatively and did not inhibit yeast activity. The amount of reducing sugars and ethyl alcohol was higher in samples purified with 1-ethyl-3-methy-limidazolium acetate. A change in the supramolecular structure of cellulose induced by the ionic liquid was also observed.
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