The enzymatic hydrolysis of brewers' spent grain (BSG) has been investigated through treatment with commercial carbohydrases and proteases. Resultant residues were then chemically fractionated and delignified. Enzymatic treatments released 25-30% of the BSG mass and yielded precursors suitable for subsequent conversion to potentially value-added products. Controlled chemical fractionation selectively solubilized arabinoxylan but with no differences apparent due to prior enzyme treatment. The loss of non-polysaccharide components during alkali treatment suggests the presence of a high proportion of alkali-soluble lignin. Further delignification of the alkali-insoluble residues and further chemical fractionation released the remaining hemicellulose, to yield a residue which was >90% cellulose. Further knowledge of the properties and interaction between BSG polymers will facilitate an improved enzyme-assisted total deconstruction of BSG and hence the exploitation of its biomass.
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