Changes of the surface structure of corn stalk in the cooking process with active oxygen and MgO-based solid alkali as a pretreatment of its biomass conversion
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This study presents a novel, efficient and environmentally friendly process for the cooking of corn stalk that uses active oxygen (O(2) and H(2)O(2)) and a recoverable solid alkali (MgO). The structural changes on the surface of corn stalk before and after cooking were characterized by attenuated total reflectance-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) techniques. The results showed that lignin and extractives were effectively removed, especially those on the surface of corn stalk. Additionally, the changes included becoming fibrillar, the exposure of cellulose and hemi-cellulose and the pitting corrosion on the surface, etc. The results also showed that the removal reaction is from outside to inside, but the main reaction is possibly on the surface. Furthermore, the results of active oxygen cooking with a solid alkali are compared with those of alkaline cooking in the paper. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.