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

Development of rapid bioconversion with integrated recycle technology for ethanol production from extractive ammonia pretreated corn stover

Mingjie Jin; Yanping Liu; Leonardo da Costa Sousa; Bruce E. Dale; Venkatesh Balan

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2017

High enzyme loading and low productivity are two major issues impeding low cost ethanol production from lignocellulosic biomass. This work applied rapid bioconversion with integrated recycle technology (RaBIT) and extractive ammonia (EA) pretreatment for conversion of corn stover (CS) to ethanol at high solids loading. Enzymes were recycled via recycling unhydrolyzed solids. Enzymatic hydrolysis with recycled enzymes and fermentation with recycled yeast cells were studied. Both enzymatic hydrolysis time and fermentation time were shortened to 24 h. Ethanol productivity was enhanced by two times and enzyme loading was reduced by 30%. Glucan and xylan conversions reached as high as 98% with an enzyme loading of as low as 8.4 mg protein per g glucan. The overall ethanol yield was 227 g ethanol/kg EA-CS (191 g ethanol/kg untreated CS). Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2017;9999: 1–8. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Fed-batch hydrolysate addition and cell separation by settling in high cell density lignocellulosic ethanol fermentations on AFEX™ corn stover in the Rapid Bioconversion with Integrated recycling Technology process

Cory Sarks; Mingjie Jin; Venkatesh Balan; Bruce E. Dale

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2017

The Rapid Bioconversion with Integrated recycling Technology (RaBIT) process uses enzyme and yeast recycling to improve cellulosic ethanol production economics. The previous versions of the RaBIT process exhibited decreased xylose consumption using cell recycle for a variety of different micro-organisms. Process changes were tested in an attempt to eliminate the xylose consumption decrease. Three different RaBIT process changes were evaluated in this work including (1) shortening the fermentation time, (2) fed-batch hydrolysate addition, and (3) selective cell recycling using a settling method. Shorting the RaBIT fermentation process to 11 h and introducing fed-batch hydrolysate addition eliminated any xylose consumption decrease over ten fermentation cycles; otherwise, decreased xylose consumption was apparent by the third cell recycle event. However, partial removal of yeast cells during recycle was not economical when compared to recycling all yeast cells.

Hotspots of soil N2O emission enhanced through water absorption by plant residue

A. N. Kravchenko; E. R. Toosi; A. K. Guber; N. E. Ostrom; J. Yu; K. Azeem; M. L. Rivers; G. P. Robertson

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2017

N2O is a highly potent greenhouse gas and arable soils represent its major anthropogenic source. Field-scale assessments and predictions of soil N2O emission remain uncertain and imprecise due to the episodic and microscale nature of microbial N2O production, most of which occurs within very small discrete soil volumes. Such hotspots of N2O production are often associated with decomposing plant residue. Here we quantify physical and hydrological soil characteristics that lead to strikingly accelerated N2O emissions in plant residue-induced hotspots. Results reveal a mechanism for microscale N2O emissions: water absorption by plant residue that creates unique micro-environmental conditions, markedly different from those of the bulk soil. Moisture levels within plant residue exceeded those of bulk soil by 4-10-fold and led to accelerated N2O production via microbial denitrification. The presence of large ([empty] >35[thinsp][mu]m) pores was a prerequisite for maximized hotspot N2O production and for subsequent diffusion to the atmosphere. Understanding and modelling hotspot microscale physical and hydrologic characteristics is a promising route to predict N2O emissions and thus to develop effective mitigation strategies and estimate global fluxes in a changing environment.

Increasing the revenue from lignocellulosic biomass: maximizing feedstock utilization

David M. Alonso; Sikander Hakim; Shengfei Zhou; Wangyun Won; Omid Hosseinaei; Jingming Tao; Valerie Garcia-Negron; Ali H. Motagamwala; Max A. Mellmer; Kefeng Huang; Carl J. Houtman; Nicole Labbe; David P. Harper; Christos Maravelias; Troy Runge; James A. Dumesic

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2017

The production of renewable chemicals and biofuels must be cost- and performance- competitive with petroleum-derived equivalents to be widely accepted by markets and society. We propose a biomass conversion strategy that maximizes the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass (up to 80% of the biomass to useful products) into high-value products that can be commercialized, providing the opportunity for successful translation to an economically viable commercial process. Our fractionation method preserves the value of all three primary components: (i) cellulose, which is converted into dissolving pulp for fibers and chemicals production; (ii) hemicellulose, which is converted into furfural (a building block chemical); and (iii) lignin, which is converted into carbon products (carbon foam, fibers, or battery anodes), together producing revenues of more than $500 per dry metric ton of biomass. Once de-risked, our technology can be extended to produce other renewable chemicals and biofuels.

Iron cycling in the anoxic cryo-ecosystem of Antarctic Lake Vida

Bernadette C. Proemse; Alison E. Murray; Christina Schallenberg; Breege McKiernan; Brian T. Glazer; Seth A. Young; Nathaniel E. Ostrom; Andrew R. Bowie; Michael E. Wieser; Fabien Kenig; Peter T. Doran; Ross Edwards

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2017

Iron redox cycling in metal-rich, hypersaline, anoxic brines plays a central role in the biogeochemical evolution of life on Earth, and similar brines with the potential to harbor life are thought to exist elsewhere in the solar system. To investigate iron biogeochemical cycling in a terrestrial analog we determined the iron redox chemistry and isotopic signatures in the cryoencapsulated liquid brines found in frozen Lake Vida, East Antarctica. We used both in situ voltammetry and the spectrophotometric ferrozine method to determine iron speciation in Lake Vida brine (LVBr). Our results show that iron speciation in the anoxic LVBr was, unexpectedly, not free Fe(II). Iron isotope analysis revealed highly depleted values of −2.5‰ for the ferric iron of LVBr that are similar to iron isotopic signatures of Fe(II) produced by dissimilatory iron reduction. The presence of Fe(III) in LVBr therefore indicates dynamic iron redox cycling beyond iron reduction. Furthermore, extremely low δ18O–SO4 2− values (−9.7‰) support microbial iron-sulfur cycling reactions. In combination with evidence for chemodenitrification resulting in iron oxidation, we conclude that coupled abiotic and biotic redox reactions are driving the iron cycle in Lake Vida brine. Our findings challenge the current state of knowledge of anoxic brine chemistry and may serve as an analogue for icy brines found in the outer reaches of the solar system.

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