A method for separating lignocellulosic material into (a) lignin, (b) cellulose, and (c) hemicellulose and dissolved sugars. Wood or herbaceous biomass is digested at elevated temperature in a single-phase mixture of alcohol, water and a water-immiscible organic solvent (e.g., a ketone). After digestion, the amount of water or organic solvent is adjusted so that there is phase separation. The lignin is present in the organic solvent, the cellulose is present in a solid pulp phase, and the aqueous phase includes hemicellulose and any dissolved sugars.
CONTRACTUAL ORIGIN OF THE INVENTION
The United States Government has rights in this invention under Contract No. DE-AC36-83CH10093 between the United States Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a Division of the Midwest Research Institute.