The economic success of a potential biorefinery is directly related to the use of low cost biomass. Due to the high cost, it is unlikely that a wood-based biorefinery would use only whitewood chips from mature trees in conversion. Using a more heterogeneous raw material is less costly, but efficacy of the conversion using whole short ration coppice (including leaves, bark, branches and white wood) has not been investigated. This study investigated the influence of using whole hybrid poplar coppice on the overall sugar yield via biochemical conversion and the bio-oil production via thermochemical conversion. Results show that converting the short rotation hybrid poplar coppice may be challenging, with up to 50% lower sugar yield and close to 30% lower bio-oil yield than mature poplar wood chips. However, the removal of leaves significantly increased the overall sugar recovery and bio-oil production by 20% and 15%, respectively. These results show that leaf removal from short rotation hybrid poplar coppice prior to harvest may enhance the biorefinery production. With techno-economic analysis and life cycle assessment, we further evaluate the feasibility of converting short rotation hybrid poplar coppice to sugar and bio-oil via biochemical and thermochemical conversions.
Research Interests: Renewable fuels, bioprocess engineering, biorefinery, techno-economic analysis, life cycle assessment, mathematic and mechanistic modeling, fermentation engineering, biochemical engineering
Teaching Interests: Biochemical engineering, bioprocess and biosystem enegineering, natural chemistry, analytical chemistry