|Title: Method to Help Produce Ethanol|
US Patent Office Full Record
Agricultural Research Service scientists have developed a method for cleaning up fermentation feedstocks derived from biomass. Current methods for inhibitor abatement are costly, rely on physical or chemical treatments, generate waste, and result in water waste. This process is inexpensive and easy to use, generates no waste, and conserves water. Agricultural biomass, such as corn fiber or corn stover, is a potential alternative to starch in producing ethanol or other fermentation products. Treating biomass with dilute acid releases sugars for fermentation, but also causes toxic chemicals to form. More than 35 potentially toxic compounds, including acetate and furan-and phenolic compounds, have been identified. Current methods for removing these compounds produce wastes and/or are costly. ARS's technology uses a microorganism, isolated from soil, to detoxify the sugar stream. This technology targets multiple inhibitory compounds and totally eliminates the most problematic ones. The microorganism is added to the biomass mixture prior to fermentation. Glucose derived from cellulose, and potentially other sugars, can then be fermented to ethanol or another product.
This invention addresses one of the obstacles in using biomass to produce ethanol, by offering a new method for detoxifying biomass-derived sugar streams. This technology is in early-stage development, and will require additional research for large-scale commercial use. This technology would be of interest to chemical manufacturing companies. Also, companies manufacturing ethanol and alternative fuels would benefit from the technology.
Please refer to U.S. Patent 7,067,303 (Docket #0097.02), “Microorganism for Biological Abatement of Inhibitors in Toxic Fermentation Substrates,” which issued June 27, 2006. Foreign rights are available.