A Rutgers-led team has developed a new biomass pretreatment process that could make it much cheaper to produce biofuels such as ethanol from plant waste and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. The approach, featuring an ammonia-salt-based solvent that rapidly turns plant fibers into sugars needed to make ethanol, works well at close to room temperature, unlike conventional processes, according to their open-access paper in the journal Green Chemistry . Our pretreatment system can slash by up to 50-fold the use of enzymes to turn solvent-treated cellulose (plant fiber) into glucose (a sugar) used to make bioproducts like ethanol. Similar processes could greatly reduce the cost of producing biofuels from waste biomass like corn stalks and leaves. Cellulosethumbnail_Todd Image 2-2 Next-generation ammonia-salt based pretreatment processes facilitate efficient breakdown of waste biomass such as corn stalks, leaves and other residue. Image: Shih-Hsien Liu/ORNL and Shishir Chundawat/Rutgers University–New Brunswick The solvent can […]