- Large scale production of biofuels and other chemicals
- Biomass deconstruction
- Lowers operating costs
- Reduces amount of toxic and wasteful byproducts
- Yields a sugar stream ready for fermentation
Researchers Blake Simmons, Seema Singh, and Feng Xu at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have developed high gravity biomass processing with a one-pot conversion technology to produce concentrated fermentable sugars and high-titer cellulosic ethanol. Bio-derived ionic liquids – known for their low toxicity to hydrolytic enzyme mixtures and microbes – are used in a high biomass-loading pretreatment step followed by fed batch saccharification. The resulting sugar stream can be used instantly for microbial fermentation without additional steps.
The technology reduces ionic liquid use and water inputs by approximately 90% compared to the conventional ionic liquid-biomass process that requires extensive water washing before saccharification and fermentation, and wastewater generation is reduced by approximately 85%. As a result, the cost of cellulosic ethanol produced is reduced by 40%, taking into account reduced electricity use, chemical inputs, and water / wastewater management in addition to the other savings. The technology not only improves the efficiency of biofuel production, but also decreases the toxicity and waste associated with previous methods. The use of bio-derived ionic liquids enables consolidated “one-pot” biomass conversions while decreasing the amount of waste produced. Following pre-treatment, enzymatic saccharification and yeast fermentation produce the final biofuel product.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle. A lab-scale process yielded an ethanol titer of 41.2 g/L from the one-pot process with a 3:1 biomass to water ratio in a single batch process without water treatment / recycle, compared to 18.9 in a dilute acid process.
STATUS: Patent pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Xu, F., Sun, J., Konda, N. V. S. N. M., Shi, J., Dutta, T., Scown, C. D., Simmons, B. A., & Singh, S. (2016). “Transforming biomass conversion with ionic liquids: process intensification and the development of a high-gravity, one-pot process for the production of cellulosic ethanol”. [10.1039/C5EE02940F]. Energy & Environmental Science, 9(3), 1042-1049. doi, 10.1039/c5ee02940f ://WOS:000372243600034.