to-wheels Graduate Enterprise: Bioprocessing Initiatives

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1 A Wood-to to-wheels Graduate Enterprise: Bioprocessing Initiatives David R. Shonnard Department of Chemical Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI Presentation to MEDC and Other Visitors Advanced Technology Development Center, MTU March 16, 2007

2 Bio-Processing MTU Faculty Collaborators David Shonnard, Professor, Chem. Eng. Susan Bagley, Professor, Bio. Sci. Heather Youngs,, Asst. Professor, Bio. Sci. Patricia Heiden,, Assoc. Professor, Chemistry External Collaborators American Forest and Paper Assoc. National Bioenergy Center, NREL American Process, Inc. SUBR/Center for Energy and Environmental Studies General Motors Corporation

3 Example Process to Convert Lignocellulosic Biomass to Ethanol (NREL) Adapted from: Charles E. Wymen, Biomass Ethanol: Technical Progress, Opportunities, and Commercial Challenges, Annu. Rev. Energy Environ.,1999, 24:

4 Bioprocessing Initiatives: Thermochemical Conversions Optimize biomass-to to-sugar reactions Reduce byproduct reactions Evaluate timber species mixtures Materials compatibility issues Integrated Bioprocess Facility Integrate fermentation and purification to increase fuel yields Test monitoring devices and process control schemes Minimize energy consumption and waste generation Biochemical Conversions Develop/test high-activity cellulases for tree species mixtures Generate more easily metabolized sugars using epimerases Improve fermentations for high yields of ethanol / other bio-based based materials Use metabolic flux analysis to guide strain improvement Product Purification Boost yields by coupling membrane separation with fermentation Conserve water by recovering and recycling fermentation nutrients

5 Pretreatment Results: Sugar/Byproduct Concentration Profile Concentration (g/l) Basswood Acid 0.5% H 2 SO 4, 175 o C, Mesh (Monomers Content) Glucose (6C) Xylose (5C) Galactose (6C) Arabinose (5C) Mannose (6C) Furfural (5C) Temperature reached maximum Time (min) Most hemicellulose was hydrolyzed to sugars Xylose Concentration increased rapidly Minor sugars degraded to their by-product

6 Pretreatment Results: Overall Yield % Yield Average Sugar Yield of Various Biomass Species Aspen Balsam Basswood Red Maple Switchgrass Higher xylose concentration on Aspen & Switchgrass Biomass Species Glucose Xylose Galactose Arabinose Mannose Higher mannose concentration on softwood

7 Future Research Investigate mixtures of different tree species for maximum xylose yield Reactor issues, Materials compatibility and cost Larger reactors will improve experiment accuracy Use of process modeling to optimize conversions Reactor types Control of temperature and residence time

8 Enzymatic Reactions Cellulases are fungal enzymes that break down cellulose to glucose Epimerases interconvert sugars Improving cellulase activity Recombinant DNA approach Modify cellulase binding Cellulose surface Lignin surface to minimize enzyme use

9 Fermentation: Microbial Improvement / Coproducts Fabrics, etc. Polylactic Acid Plastics Lactic Acid PHFs US DOE Genome Programs Genetically-modified Bacteria

10 Research Pilot Plant Vision: Biorefinery in Miniature Feedstock Handling Pretreatment And Neutralization Fermentation And SSF Ethanol Product Biomass Feedstock Ethanol Recovery 100 gallon ethanol / day Incorporate research innovations 0.5% - 2.0% w/w Dilute Acid Biocatalyst Production Treated Water Water Treatment Steam and Power Generation Solid Separation Ash to Disposal Process Steam Process and Export Power Test bed for process design / evaluation data Measure mass - energy balances / process control Cost / environmental impact / energy efficiency analyses Undergraduate experiences Research associates / process improvement teams

11 Midwestern land cover (USFS North Central Research Station image) Questions?

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