Monday, April 30, 2007

On-farm pretreatment technologies for improving enzymatic digestibility of cellulose and hemicellulose present in perennial grass and corn stover

Matthew F. Digman1, Kevin J. Shinners2, Bruce S. Dien3, Richard E. Muck1, and Paul J. Weimer1. (1) U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, USDA-ARS, 1925 Linden Drive West, Madison, WI 53706, (2) Biological Systems Engineering, University of Wisconsin, 460 Henry Mall, Madison, WI 53706, (3) National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, USDA-ARS, 1815 N UNIVERSITY ST, Peoria, IL 61604

Recently, wet storage methods have been proposed for feedstock preservation and on-farm storage of perennial grass and corn stover biomass.  The advantages over a dry storage system include lower risk of fire, reduced harvest costs, and improved feedstock susceptibility to enzymatic hydrolysis.  We believe that wet storage systems may also present a unique opportunity to add value to the feedstock through chemical or biological pretreatment. In-storage pretreatments at ambient temperature and pressure but prolonged reaction times may lower pretreatment costs and provide better return for farmers. Our research investigates the ability of on-farm pretreatments with dilute acid, alkali, ozone or novel enzymes to improve enzymatic degradability of cellulose and hemicelluloses in biomass at the biorefinery.