Deconstruction

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GLBRC's Deconstruction Research Area

Deconstruction

GLBRC's Deconstruction Lead takes top academic slot

Located at the intersection of the U.S.’s agricultural heartland and its northern forests, the GLBRC has access to a rich diversity of raw biomass for study. The Center's Deconstruction research focuses on identifying the best combinations of enzymes, chemicals, and physical processing methods for enhancing the digestibility of specific biomass sources.

Learn about the Center's research approach

Deconstruction Leadership

Deconstruction Lead

Dale is an expert on making ethanol from cellulose, plant stalks, grass, corn cobs and other woody plant parts and has developed a patented process called ammonia fiber expansion (AFEXTM), which makes the breakdown of cellulose more efficient, thus tackling...

Deconstruction Lead

Fox's research goals are to define the structure and the reactivity of the active site diiron center, to probe the catalytic contributions of the active site protein residues and to determine the consequences of protein-protein and protein-substrate interactions on the...

Project Overview

A biofuels reactor designed to produce ethanol at Michigan State University's Biomass Conversion Research Lab (BCRL)GLBRC Deconstruction research maintains a focus on the entire biofuels production pipeline: in addition to identifying and improving natural cellulose-degrading enzymes extracted from diverse environments, researchers apply unique biomass pretreatment technologies—such as ammonia fiber expansion (AFEX™), alkaline hydrogen peroxide (AHP), and extractive ammonia (EA)—that enable conversion technologies to maximize plant biomass utilization.. Researchers also explore strategies to add value to these processes by developing co-products from materials that would otherwise be treated as waste, such as lignin. Specific deconstruction projects include:

  • Pretreatment effects on biomass, alkaline peroxide pretreatment, fuel production from alkaline-pretreated biomass
  • Optimization of enzymes for biomass conversion, discovery of natural cellulolytic microbes, identification of novel microbial enzymes, and combinatorial discovery of enzymes and proteins

Deconstruction Publications

Design of biofuel supply chains with variable regional depot and biorefinery locations

Rex T.L. Ng; Christos T. Maravelias

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2017

We propose a multi-period mixed-integer linear programming (MILP) model for the design and operational planning of cellulosic biofuel supply chains. Specifically, the proposed MILP model accounts for biomass selection and allocation, technology selection and capacity planning at regional depots and biorefineries. Importantly, it considers the location of regional depots and biorefineries as continuous optimization decisions. We introduce approximation and reformulation methods for the calculation of the shipments and transportation distance in order to obtain a linear model. We illustrate the applicability of the proposed methods using two medium-scale examples with realistic data.

Techno-economic comparison of centralized versus decentralized biorefineries for two alkaline pretreatment processes

Ryan J. Stoklosa; Andrea del Pilar Orjuela; Leonardo da Costa Sousa; Nirmal Uppugundla; Daniel L. Williams; Bruce E. Dale; David B. Hodge; Venkatesh Balan

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2017

In this work, corn stover subjected to ammonia fiber expansion (AFEX™)1 AFEX™, is a trademark of MBI International. 1 pretreatment or alkaline pre-extraction followed by hydrogen peroxide post-treatment (AHP pretreatment) were compared for their enzymatic hydrolysis yields over a range of solids loadings, enzymes loadings, and enzyme combinations. Process techno-economic models were compared for cellulosic ethanol production for a biorefinery that handles 2000 tons per day of corn stover employing a centralized biorefinery approach with AHP or a de-centralized AFEX pretreatment followed by biomass densification feeding a centralized biorefinery. A techno-economic analysis (TEA) of these scenarios shows that the AFEX process resulted in the highest capital investment but also has the lowest minimum ethanol selling price (MESP) at $2.09/gal, primarily due to good energy integration and an efficient ammonia recovery system. The economics of AHP could be made more competitive if oxidant loadings were reduced and the alkali and sugar losses were also decreased.

Toward high solids loading process for lignocellulosic biofuel production at low cost

Mingjie Jin; Cory Sarks; Bryan D. Bals; Nick Posawatz; Christa Gunawan; Bruce E. Dale; Venkatesh Balan

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2017

A roadmap for the synthesis of separation networks for the recovery of bio-based chemicals: Matching biological and process feasibility

Kirti M. Yenkie; WenZhao Wu; Ryan L. Clark; Brian F. Pfleger; Thatcher W. Root; Christos T. Maravelias

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2016

Microbial conversion of renewable feedstocks to high-value chemicals is an attractive alternative to current petrochemical processes because it offers the potential to reduce net CO2 emissions and integrate with bioremediation objectives. Microbes have been genetically engineered to produce a growing number of high-value chemicals in sufficient titer, rate, and yield from renewable feedstocks. However, high-yield bioconversion is only one aspect of an economically viable process. Separation of biologically synthesized chemicals from process streams is a major challenge that can contribute to > 70% of the total production costs. Thus, process feasibility is dependent upon the efficient selection of separation technologies. This selection is dependent on upstream processing or biological parameters, such as microbial species, product titer and yield, and localization. Our goal is to present a roadmap for selection of appropriate technologies and generation of separation schemes for efficient recovery of bio-based chemicals by utilizing information from upstream processing, separation science and commercial requirements. To achieve this, we use a separation system comprising of three stages: (I) cell and product isolation, (II) product concentration, and (III) product purification and refinement. In each stage, we review the technology alternatives available for different tasks in terms of separation principles, important operating conditions, performance parameters, advantages and disadvantages. We generate separation schemes based on product localization and its solubility in water, the two most distinguishing properties. Subsequently, we present ideas for simplification of these schemes based on additional properties, such as physical state, density, volatility, and intended use. This simplification selectively narrows down the technology options and can be used for systematic process synthesis and optimal recovery of bio-based chemicals.

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