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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Sustainable Biofuels and Co-products Research

2012 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Develop pretreatment and fermentation processes to convert lignocellulosic materials such as barley straw, barley hulls, DDGS, and other crop biomass into fuel ethanol and value-added coproducts. This work complements present ARS work to develop advanced bioconversion process for production of cellulosic ethanol and value-added co-products that can be integrated into an existing fuel ethanol plant. The first step in a lignocellulosic biomass bioconversion process normally is pretreatment to open up the structure and subsequently allow increased enzymatic hydrolysis. Soaking in aqueous ammonia (SAA) has been proven to be effective as a pretreatment method of agricultural residues, such as corn stover, corn fiber, barley hull, switchgrass, etc. In this study, SAA will be employed for the pretreatment step and subsequent conversion of SAA pretreated biomass will be investigated.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
The composition of specific types of biomass studied in this project will be determined using standard procedures for biomass analysis. Then, pre-treatment processes based upon Soaking in Aqueous Ammonia (SAA) technology will be developed and optimized for each biomass source. SAA will open up the structure of the biomass and subsequently allow increased enzymatic hydrolysis. This pretreated biomass will be subject to saccharification using commercial cellulases with xylanase supplements. The conversion of biomass to free sugars will be monitored by HPLC and standard methods of analysis. Once saccharified, the sugars will be fermented by traditional brewers yeast. In other studies, pre-treated biomass will be simultaneously saccharified and fermented to directly produce ethanol from the pretreated biomass in one step.

3. Progress Report:
In collaboration with Iowa State University (ISU) optimum conditions for the "soaking in aqueous ammonia" pretreatment of barley straw were determined. Pretreated barley straw was fractionated by commercial xylanase hydrolysis. The xylose-rich solutions were used for astaxanthin fermentation. The cellulose-rich residue was subjected to fed-batch SSF fermentation using the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to obtain final ethanol concentrations above 70 g/l.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 06/23/2017
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