Research at the University of Washington has already resulted in new sensor for biorefineries. Example includes use the utilization of a revolutionary and unique analytical tool such as Raman spectroscopy to monitor fermentation of sugar to ethanol. We have proven for the first time that we can follow the progress of lignocellulosic sugars to ethanol fermentation in the real time.
The objective of this work was to use a 785nm Raman ball probe to continuously monitor the progress of hydrolysis and fermentation of biomass. Chemometric analysis of the reactants and products was done using principle component analysis (PCA) of the Raman spectra and a partial least squares (PLS) model was developed and validated using HPLC data. Of particular interest was how best to deal with background fluorescence generated from both the cell biomass and the lignin-derived compounds.