(455b) Multistream Integrated Biorefinery (MIBR) for Carbon-, Road-, and Bio-Materials

Authors: 
Yuan, J., Texas A&M University
Xie, S., Texas A&M University
Li, Q., Texas A&M University
The success of a modern biorefinery heavily depends on the availability of diverse product streams and utilization of all fractions of input material. Traditional lignocellulosic biorefining focuses on ethanol, which has limited by-product streams that add value to the biorefinery. Essentially all current bioconversion platforms lead to a lignin-containing waste stream that needs further processing into valuable products. Although a certain amount of lignin (~30–40%) is needed for the thermal requirements of biofuel production, a modern cellulosic processing plant will have ~60% excess lignin. The utilization of the lignin-containing biorefinery waste as feedstock for renewable products offers a unique opportunity to achieve a multi-stream integrated biorefinery (MIBR), where the lignin-containing biorefinery waste will be utilized for various carbon-, road- and bio- materials to maximize economic return and sustainability. Specifically, we have advanced the fractionation, conversion, and processing technologies to enable different bioproduct streams. An efficient enzyme-mediator system was developed to fractionate lignin into low- and high- molecular weight fractions with more homogenous chemical characteristics. We have demonstrated that these lignin fractions are more amenable to different applications in bioconversion, asphalt binder modifier, and carbon fiber. The low molecular weight fraction is more amenable to bioconversion into PHA for bioplastics. In addition, the low molecular fraction can be used as unique asphalt binder modifiers to improve both high and low temperature performance of road pavement. The high molecular weight fraction can be used to fabricate carbon fiber with significantly improved mechanical performance. Together, MIBR will reduce ethanol production cost through the creation of high value bioproducts, produce asphalt binder modifier with unique features, develop an innovative, new pathway to quality carbon fiber; and create a means to utilize all carbon in the feedstocks.