Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Pretreatment, proper harvest time boost ethanol from switchgrass

01.09.2011
Adding a pretreatment step would allow producers to get more ethanol from switchgrass harvested in the fall, according to a Purdue University study.

Michael Ladisch, a distinguished professor of agricultural and biological engineering, and Youngmi Kim, a research scientist, compared switchgrass based on growing location, harvest time and whether it was given a pretreatment step. They found that location wasn't important, but the other two factors could significantly increase the amount of ethanol obtained from the feedstock.

"Switchgrass harvested in the spring had more cellulose, but also more lignin," said Kim, whose findings were published in the early online version of the journal Bioresource Technology. "You do not get the advantage of the increased cellulose content because it's more difficult to extract those sugars because of the lignin."

Lignin, a rigid substance found in plant cell walls, is one of the most significant problems with cellulosic ethanol production. Besides the harvest time, a pretreatment step - cooking switchgrass in hot water under pressure for about 10 minutes - would also help work around lignin.

Before pretreatment, Kim said about 10 percent of cellulose was converted to glucose, the yeast-fermentable sugar that produces ethanol. After pretreatment, that number jumped to as much as 90 percent. The pretreatment dissolves hemicellulose, which bonds cellulose and lignin in the plant. Once it is gone, there is more access to the sugars contained in the cellulose.

"There is more surface area for the enzymes to digest cellulose," Kim said.

Ladisch said advancements in techniques to work around lignin could make spring switchgrass more attractive. But he said that fall switchgrass given a pretreatment and fermentation with special yeast shows potential to give as much as 800-1,000 gallons of ethanol per acre per year, compared with 150-250 gallons per year without pretreatment. Ladisch said corn ethanol from grain produces about 500-600 gallons per acre per year.

"This shows that we can improve the processes and increase the amount of ethanol we get from switchgrass," Ladisch said.

Ladisch is chief technology officer at Mascoma, a renewable fuels company based in New Hampshire. He received no funding from the company for this research, which was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The work is part of a concerted research effort on pretreatments by a consortium made up of the University of California Riverside, Auburn University, Texas A&M University, Michigan State University, Genencor and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory together with Purdue University.

Abstract on the research in this release is available at: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2011/110831LadischSwitchgrass.html

Brian Wallheimer | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.purdue.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht What the world's tiniest 'monster truck' reveals
23.08.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Treating arthritis with algae
23.08.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

What the world's tiniest 'monster truck' reveals

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Treating arthritis with algae

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Witnessing turbulent motion in the atmosphere of a distant star

23.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>