Paul Wolski.

Graduate Student
University of California, Berkeley

B.S. Biological Science, 2008
Cornell University

Office Location: 242 Energy Biosciences Building
Office Telephone: 510-666-2558

Cellulose Solvation and Enzymatic Hydrolysis in Ionic Liquids

Ionic liquids are molten salts that are liquid at or near room temperature. Many studies have shown certain ionic liquids to be capable of dissolving cellulose and, in some cases, whole biomass. The applications of these for cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels are immense. Since the largest cost of cellulosic ethanol is the pretreatment and ionic liquids are reusable and nonvolatile, ionic liquids provide a more efficient and environmentally friendly method of lignocellulosic pretreatment. However, they go beyond that. The ionic liquids actually dissolve the biomass. This dissolved biomass gives the opportunity for enhanced enzymatic rates as well. Thus the ionic liquids, which are a significant part of the focus of my research toward a complete process of lignocellulose to biofuels, have great potential to be an integral part of biofuel production. The second part of my research involves development of an enzyme system capable of tolerating the ionic liquid environment while still keeping the cellulose solvated. We predict this will give a much increased reaction rate. In summary ionic liquids could be a replacement to acid/steam based pretreatment that is also amicable to enzymatic conversion of biomass to biofuels.