Monday, April 30, 2007

Bioconversion of organosolv-pretreated British Columbian beetle-killed softwoods for ethanol production

Alex Berlin, Pablo Chung, and Jack Saddler. Forest Products Biotechnology, Wood Science, The University of British Columbia, 4609-2424 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T1Z4, Canada

British Columbia has the potential of becoming a major supplier of renewable cellulosic ethanol as this emerging technology is implemented worldwide. The abundant low value lignocellulosic biomass available in Western Canada such as beetle-killed hybrid spruce (Picea glauca x Picea engelmannii) and lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) will allow the development of a bioethanol industry with the potential of producing over a 100 billion liters ethanol by 2013. This volume of ethanol will be enough to supply USA, Europe, Canada with ethanol blended at 5% with gasolines resulting in an annual reduction of oil consumption and corresponding reduction of green house gases emissions of ~10%. In a previous study we evaluated organosolv-pretreated British Columbian beetle-killed hybrid spruce as a feedstock for the production of bioethanol. We proved that this substrate is a suitable biomass source for bioethanol production. As a continuation of that study here we evaluate the feasibility of using organosolv-pretreated beetle-killed lodgepole pine for bioethanol production. Beetle-killed lodgepole pine will be widely available in Western Canada in the near future in quantities even larger than beetle-killed hybrid spruce reaching its maximum (1 billion cubic meters) by 2013.