Mechanical Engineering, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Bioeconomy Institute (BEI)
Journal or Book Title
Reaction Chemistry and Engineering
Large-scale production of biofuels and chemicals will require cost-effective, sustainable, and rapid deconstruction of waste biomass into its constituent sugars. Here, we introduce a novel two-step liquefaction process for producing fermentable sugars from hardwood biomass using a mixture of tetrahydrofuran (THF), water and dilute sulfuric acid. THF promotes acid-catalyzed solubilization of lignin and hemicellulose in biomass achieving 61% lignin extraction and 64% xylose recovery in a mild pretreatment step. The pretreatment opens the structure of biomass through delignification and produces a cellulose-rich biomass, which is readily solubilized at low temperature giving 65% total sugar yields in a subsequent liquefaction process employing the same solvent mixture. This process achieves competitive sugar yields at high volumetric productivity compared to conventional saccharification methods. THF, which can be derived from renewable resources, has several benefits as solvent including ease of recovery from the sugar solution and relatively low toxicity and cost.
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Ghosh, Arpa; Haverly, Martin R.; Lindstrom, Jake K.; Johnston, Patrick A.; and Brown, Robert C., "Tetrahydrofuran-based two-step solvent liquefaction process for production of lignocellulosic sugars" (2020). Mechanical Engineering Publications. 427.