(501c) Biomass Deconstruction Towards Total Carbon Utilization for Future Biorefineries

Cai, C. M., University of California
Nguyen, T. Y., Amyris
Petridis, L., Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Smith, M., Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Patri, A., University of California Riverside
Cheng, X., Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Kothari, N. D., University of California, Riverside
Pu, Y., Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Ragauskas, A. J., University of Tennessee
Kumar, R., University of California, Riverside
Wyman, C., University of California
Seemala, B., University of California, Riverside
Christopher, P., University of California, Santa Barbara
Lignocellulosic biomass is the most abundant source of organic carbon on Earth and presents the only option with the potential to economically and sustainably replace fossil resources for large-scale production of renewable chemicals, materials, and liquid fuels. However, past methods to achieve the facile deconstruction of biomass has been challenged by processing difficulties, low product recovery, and excessive materials and energy costs. We highlight here the recent developments of novel CELF (Co-solvent Enhanced Lignocellulosic Fractionation) technology to enable more economically feasible deconstruction and conversion of biomass in future biorefineries. At lower reaction severities, we have recently applied CELF to integrate with biological fermentations achieving complete solubilization of solids without added enzymes in just two days culture. In another configuration, CELF paired with high solids ethanol fermentation achieved equivalent performance as compared to pure sugar fermentations. At higher reaction severities, a pathway to high yield co-production of methylated furans from both furfural and HMF was developed using a supported non-noble catalyst. We also demonstrate how atomic-level interactions simulated by supercomputers could help understand key chemical mechanisms responsible for biomass breakdown to help improve design of bulk-level processes that can be subsequently integrated with downstream conversion. The central theme of this discussion will be towards maximizing total carbon utilization of biomass using CELF and a special focus on lignin valorization.