6-08: Revolutionary sensor to measure in the real time the progress of hydrolysis and fermentation for production of biofuels and biochemicals from lignocellulosic biomass

Monday, April 30, 2012
Napoleon Ballroom C-D, 3rd fl (Sheraton New Orleans)
Renata Bura1, Shannon Ewanick1, Wesley Thompson2, Hong Lin1, Brain Marquard2 and Richard Gustafson1, (1)School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, (2)Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
The growing biofuels and bioproducts industry is replacing many non-renewables based products with products derived from biomass. However, the cost to produce these products is still not competitive with their petroleum-derived counterparts. Since inexpensive feedstocks are often readily available, the bulk of the total cost lies with the processing of the biomass. Improvements in aspects (new pretreatments, enzymes, etc) of these processes will likely reduce costs in the future, but in the short term improving the efficiency of existing and future processes will have the greatest affect on overall process economics. Improved efficiency will come from improved analytics, leading to increased real-time knowledge of reactions and enabling instant control over process parameters.

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.

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