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Autothermal pyrolysis of lignocellulose wastes to sugars and other biobased products
Deconstruction of lignocellulosic biomass into fermentable sugars is among the major challenges in producing cellulosic biofuels and biobased products. Current pretreatment methods to liberate solid cellulose are expensive, accounting for as much as 30% of the cost of producing cellulosic biofuels. Most pretreatments do not completely fractionate cellulose and lignin, the latter of which interferes with enzymatic hydrolysis. The goal of this project is to develop a pyrolysis-based Modular Energy Production System (MEPS) for the thermal deconstruction of lignocellulosic biomass into cellulosic sugars and other value-added products. Thermal deconstruction uses thermal energy instead of enzymes or chemicals to fractionate lignocellulose into solubilized carbohydrate and phenolic oil. It has the prospects for intensifying and modularizing biorefineries, especially through pyrolysis innovations including biomass pretreatments to increase cellulosic sugar production and autothermal pyrolysis to simplify design and increase feedstock throughput. Modular Energy Production Systems configure unit operations as modules sized to fit in standard shipping containers, mass produced and integrated in the field to form fully operational biorefineries at a smaller and on-demand scale. Distributed processing with modular pyrolysis units deployed at multiple locations decreases logistical hurdles/costs for both feedstock and products.
Optimizing Autothermal conditions for yield and product quality
Integrating upstream and downstream process requirements into a modular configuration
The technologies proposed in this project are a transformative departure to traditional lignocellulosic processing systems which feature large, custom, “stick-built” plants. This project is based on Modular Energy Production Systems (MEPS), where unit operations are configured as modules sized to fit in standard shipping containers, mass produced and integrated in the field to form fully operational biorefineries at a smaller and on-demand scale. Distributed processing with modular pyrolysis units deployed at multiple locations decreases logistical costs/hurdles for both feedstock and products. Success in modular manufacturing is dependent on technologies that can achieve “process intensification,” thereby allowing enhanced output at reduced cost. If the thresholds for process intensification proposed here can be achieved, modular energy production systems can reduce carbon intensity in energy production and improve economic, environmental and social well-being.
Project Approved: April, 2017
October 11, 2017