Fractionation of oil palm fronds using ethanol-assisted deep eutectic solvent: Influence of ethanol concentration on enhancing enzymatic saccharification and lignin β-O-4 content

Khai Jie Yong, Ta Yeong Wu

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Numerous fractionation methods have been developed in recent years for separating components such as cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin from lignocellulosic biomass wastes. Deep eutectic solvents (DES) have recently been widely investigated as captivating green solvents for biomass fractionation. However, most acidic-based deep eutectic solvent fractionation produces condensed lignin with low β-O-4 content. Besides, most DESs exhibit high viscosity, which results in poor mass transfer properties. This study aimed to address the challenges above by incorporating ethanol into the deep eutectic solvent at various concentrations (10–50 wt%) to fractionate oil palm fronds at a mild condition, i.e., 80 °C, 1 atm. Cellulose residues fractionated with ethanol-assisted deep eutectic solvent showed a maximum glucose yield of 85.8% when 20 wt% of ethanol was incorporated in the deep eutectic solvent, significantly higher than that achieved by pure DES (44.8%). Lignin extracted with ethanol-assisted deep eutectic solvent is lighter in color and higher in β-O-4 contents (up to 44 β-O-4 per 100 aromatic units) than pure DES-extracted lignin. Overall, this study has demonstrated that incorporating ethanol into deep eutectic solvents could enhance the applicability of deep eutectic solvents in the complete valorization of lignocellulosic biomass. Highly enzymatic digestible cellulose-rich solid and β-O-4-rich lignin attained from the fractionation could serve as sustainable precursors for the production of biofuels.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118366
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2024


  • Alcohol
  • Biomass pretreatment
  • Biomass valorization
  • Biorefinery
  • Delignification
  • Waste transformation

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