Thermal and Morphological Evaluation of Chemically Pretreated Sugarcane Bagasse

Enzymatic hydrolysis is one of the major steps involved in the conversion from sugarcane bagasse to yield ethanol. This process offers potential for yields and selectivity higher, lower energy costs and milder operating conditions than chemical processes. However, the presence of some factors such as lignin content, crystallinity degree of the cellulose, and particle sizes, limits the digestibility of the cellulose present in the lignocellulosic biomasses. Pretreatment aims to improve the access of the enzyme to the substrate. In this study sugarcane bagasse was submitted chemical pretreatment that consisted of two consecutive steps, the first with dilute sulfuric acid (1 % (v/v) H2SO4), and the second with alkaline solutions with different concentrations of NaOH (1, 2, 3 and 4 % (w/v)). Thermal Analysis (TG/ DTG and DTA) was used to evaluate hemicellulose, cellulose and lignin contents in the samples. Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) was used to evaluate the morphological structures of the in natura and chemically treated samples. Results showed that pretreatments were effective in chemical degradation of lignocellulosic materials of the samples, and also was possible to observe the morphological changes occurring in the biomasses after pretreatments.