APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Lignocellulosic biomass conversion
- Reduced feedstock recalcitrance to enzymatic hydrolysis
- Reduced IL loading required for effective pretreatment
- Higher sugar conversion efficiencies
- Elimination of several previously required critical steps (e.g. pH adjustment)
While silage has been investigated as a lignocellulosic feedstock for bioconversion, the studies were limited to hydrothermal / hot water pretreatment. These previous processes resulted in low conversion efficiencies and required higher temperatures and extensive water washing prior to the enzymatic hydrolysis and downstream processes.
Researchers at Berkeley Lab have developed an invention that demonstrates the potential of ensiled sorghum biomass as feedstock for bioethanol production.
The use of ensiled material enables a reduction in the severity of IL-based pretreatment through lower IL loadings (2.5 wt% down from 10 wt%) and shorter saccharification times (1 day vs. 3 days). Specifically, the amount of [Ch][Lys] can be reduced up to 4-fold when pretreating ensiled sorghum, resulting in high sugar yields. The combination of ensiled biomass and ILs also has the advantage of eliminating the need to wash the biomass with water or adjust pH after pretreatment. Preliminary results confirmed that the ensiled sorghum yielded a 10-15% increase in sugar conversion compared to the respective dry sorghum pretreatment. For instance, enzymatic saccharification of the pretreated silage sorghum at 140 °C released >90% and >85% of the maximum theoretical glucose at the IL-loadings of 5% and 2.5%, respectively.
The present approach has scale-up potential and provides a cheap route to synthesizing ILs by utilizing the endogenous organic acids, which can be used as an additional carbon source for bioconversion.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle
STATUS: Patent pending.
OPPORTUNITIES: Available for licensing or collaborative research.
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