Read the full story from the University of California-Riverside.
Pretreating plant biomass with THF-water causes lignin globules on the cellulose surface to expand and break away from one another and the cellulose fibers. The expanded lignin is also more exposed to catalytic fragmentation by dilute acid. As a result, lignin can be more efficiently depolymerized, solubilized, and transported out of the cell wall at milder treatment conditions. Co-solvents allow easier recovery of both lignin and sugars, making renewable fuel production easier and more cost-effective.