Due to its abundant resources lignocellulosic biomass is a promising candidate for bioethanol production to reduce the dependence of transportation fuels on petroleum and decrease the greenhouse gas emission. Biomass pretreatment is an essential processing step in the enzymatic hydrolysis of biofuels or pulp from lignocellulosic plants. While there are several pretreatment methods for producing biofuels there is a need for less expensive and faster processing methods. Michigan State University’s technology is a cheaper and faster method for the continuous pretreatment of general lignocellulosic biomass. This technology breaks the lignin seal disrupts the crystalline structure of cellulose and increases the available surface area of biomass for enzyme attack. A nano-mixer is used to remove the lignins at low temperatures in an aqueous solution with sodium hydroxide. As a result there is an enhancement of enzymatic accessibility to the lignocellulosic materials. Applications: Treated biomasses are useful in a number of industries including the following: Pulp production for products such as paper Production of biofuels which serve as alternatives for petroleum. IP Protection Status: Patent pending
1) Fast process lowers cost: Since the process can be accomplished in several minutes the overall cost is lower. 2) Continuous process: The continuous treatment of a biomass provides enhanced enzymatic accessibility to lignocellulosic materials and results in much higher conversion. 3) Less energy required: Less energy is required due to the lack of high heat and pressure requirements during the treatment process. 4) Reduces need for harsh chemicals: The pretreatment process uses a sodium hydroxide solution which is readily neutralized in subsequent enzymatic digestion and fermentation.