Location: Forage-Animal Production Research
2012 Annual Report
3. Develop and validate integrated geographic information system (GIS)-based economic and life cycle analysis models for the proposed on-farm processing system, and use these models to evaluate different landscape-scale management scenarios on food and energy production and the environment. Determine the incentives required to increase carbon sequestration and bioenergy production when they conflict with maximum farm profitability.
The on-farm processing is envisioned to occur in bunker silos containing 360 bales of feedstock. The lignin will be depolymerized by inoculating the bales with Phanerochaete (P.) chrysosporium, and forced aeration. Alternatively, a biomimetic route will be explored. The Fenton reaction likely to be a part of this mechanism, and has been shown to be a biomimetic route to degrade lignin. The Fenton reaction requires inexpensive reagents that are amenable to current agricultural practices. When sufficient lignin has been removed to allow access to cellulose, the reactor will be switched to anaerobic solid-state thermophilic conditions, and innoculated with Clostridium (C.) thermocellum, which degrades pretreated lignocellulosic material very efficiently when the culture media is replaced on regular intervals. Water will be degassed and heated to 60°C using waste heat generated from gasifying the residual lignin from a previous bunker. After C. thermocellum is established, the reactor temperature will be dropped back to 37°C, and Clostridium (C.) acetobutylicum will be introduced. C. thermocellum will stop metabolizing at this temperature, thus allowing C. acetobutylicum to convert sugars to butanol generated by the (still active) cellulosomes of C. thermocellum.
A modular, synthetic, semi-permeable membrane separation system will be developed to separate product streams, concentrate the products, remove inhibitory products and permit recycling of water and nutrients. Membrane modules can be customized from filtration of cells and debris to small molecule separation (such as butanol from acetone). Membrane separations do not involve a phase change (unlike distillation), and are energy efficient. Our proposed separations may be less stringent because economic benefit is expected from any preconcentration of the product streams prior to shipping or purification of the recycle stream prior to reuse.
Residual biomass will be evaluated as a ruminant feed. Distiller’s grains are valuable as a feed additive because of high residual protein concentrations. This process will produce C. thermocellum and C. acetobutylicum cells in the same manner that bio-ethanol production yields yeast cells. The residual biomass will be evaluated as a value-added product.
Performance of this agreement is monitored by a USDA-ARS, Forage-Animal Production Research scientist that is intimately involved as a collaborator in the agreement project and principle investigator on the grant, and calling, emailing, or meeting with the collaborators on an as needed basis to alter experimental design.