Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology

, Volume 187, Issue 1, pp 378–395 | Cite as

Acetic Acid Removal from Pre-Pulping Wood Extract with Recovery and Recycling of Extraction Solvents

  • Aymn AbdulrahmanEmail author
  • G. Peter van Walsum
  • Byung-Hwan Um


Pre-pulping extraction is a means of deriving a hemicellulose-rich process stream from the front end of a kraft pulp mill. When the extraction is carried out using green liquor, pulp quality and quantity can be retained while still releasing hemicelluloses and acetic acid (HAc) for recovery as bioprocessing feedstock or chemical products. The HAc that is present in the wood extraction is inhibitory to microorganisms and can hinder fermentation. HAc is also a commodity chemical that may provide sufficient value to justify recovery and purification. In this study, a liquid–liquid extraction (LLE) method is applied to extract HAc from a green liquor pre-pulping hardwood extract (GLE). The HAc removal is carried out after acid hydrolysis and prior to fermentation. Two organic solutions: trioctylphosphine oxide (TOPO) diluted in undecane and trioctylamine (TOA) diluted in octanol were tested for their abilities to extract HAc from GLE and to be recycled back through the process. GLE was contacted with the organic solvents, phase separated by centrifugation, and the organic phase was then distilled to recover the acetic acid. The solvent was then recycled back for a subsequent extraction of fresh GLE. It was found that TOA was a superior extractant, but failed to easily release its HAc through distillation. It also quickly became contaminated with other compounds in the wood extracts and lost its extraction efficiency after only a few recycles. The TOPO solvent did release its HAc through distillation but also lost extraction capacity with recycling. Back extraction of the TOPO solvent with sodium hydroxide solution restored the performance of the TOPO solvent.


Acetic acid Trioctylphosphine oxide Trioctylamine Pre-pulping extraction Liquid–liquid extraction Solvent recycle Kraft pulping 



We thank Dr. Martin Lawoko and Dr. Sara Walton for the analytical support they provided. USDoE award number: DE-FG36-08GO18165.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aymn Abdulrahman
    • 1
    Email author
  • G. Peter van Walsum
    • 2
  • Byung-Hwan Um
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringUniversity of JeddahJeddahSaudi Arabia
  2. 2.Department of Chemical and Biological EngineeringUniversity of MaineOronoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Chemical Engineering and Research Center of Chemical TechnologyHankyong National UniversityAnseong-siSouth Korea

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