Previous studies on the use of SO2 and CO2 as impregnating agent for sugar cane bagasse steam treatment showed comparative and promising results concerning the cellulose enzymatic hydrolysis and the low formation of the inhibitors furfural and hydroxymethylfurfural for the use of CO2 at 205°C/15 min or SO2 at 190°C/5 min. In the present study sugar cane bagasse materials pretreated as aforementioned were analyzed by scanning and transmission electron microscopy (SEM and TEM), X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) and Infrared (FTIR spectroscopy) aiming a better understanding of the structural and chemical changes undergone by the pretreated materials.
SEM and TEM data showed that the structural modifications undergone by the pretreatment with CO2 were less pronounced in comparison to that using SO2, which can be directly related to the combined severity of each pretreatment. According to XRD data, untreated bagasse showed, as expected, a lower crystallinity index (CI = 48.0%) when compared to pretreated samples with SO2 (CI = 65.5%) or CO2 (CI = 56.4%), due to the hemicellulose removal of 68.3% and 40.5%, respectively. FTIR spectroscopy supported SEM, TEM and XRD results, revealing a more extensive action of SO2.
The SEM, TEM, XRD and FTIR spectroscopy techniques used in this work contributed to structural and chemical analysis of the untreated and pretreated bagasse. The images from SEM and TEM can be related to the severity of SO2 pretreatment, which is almost twice higher. The crystallinity index values obtained from XRD showed that pretreated materials have higher values when compared with untreated material, due to the partial removal of hemicellulose after pretreatment. FTIR spectroscopy supported SEM, TEM and XRD results. CO2 can actually be used as impregnating agent for steam pretreatment, although the present study confirmed a more extensive action of SO2.
Keywords: Sugar cane bagasse, CO2 and SO2 steam pretreatment, SEM and TEM microscopy, XRD and FTIR spectroscopy