Pretreatment of Biomass for Improved Sugar Yield

Zhenglun Li, Namita Bansal, David Hodge, Eric Hegg, Vaidyanathan Mathrubootham, Aditya Bhalla, Alexander Toulokhonov

Researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) have developed a new pretreatment technology for lignocellulosic biomass that results in increased sugar yields at a reduced cost and increased speed, and generates a separate lignin stream. This larger, faster, and cheaper yield in sugar directly correlates to improved fuel and chemical conversion processing.

The Invention

MSU inventors have found a way to improve the pretreatment process that releases sugars from plant material; these sugars are then converted into fuel. Compared to other techniques, pretreatment with our patent-pending process results in increased sugar yields that can be produced more quickly and at a reduced cost. Additionally, a separate lignin stream is generated, which can then be valorized. Under relatively mild alkaline conditions and in the presence of a suitable oxidant, a metal-ligand complex catalyzes the delignification of biomass, significantly improving the digestibility of the sugars.

Key Benefits
  • Increased sugar yield - biomass produces increased fermentable sugars (glucose, xylose)
  • Reduced pretreatment cost - less chemicals and enzymes needed for pretreatment
  • Faster pretreatment process - pretreatment time is shorter with use of a catalyst
  • Separate lignin stream – lignin is suitable for valorization 
  • Biofuels
  • Biomass Power
  • Wood and Pulp
Technology Contact

Bradley Shaw, Technology Manager, Michigan State University,

Sustainable Biomass Conversion