Deconstruction

Share

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

Simultaneous chemical process synthesis and heat integration with unclassified hot/cold process streams

Lingxun Kong; Venkatachalam Avadiappan; Kefeng Huang; Christos T. Maravelias

More Info

2017

We propose a mixed-integer nonlinear programming (MINLP) model for the simultaneous chemical process synthesis and heat integration with unclassified process streams. The model accounts for (1) streams that cannot be classified as hot or cold, and (2) variable stream temperatures and flow rates, thereby facilitating integration with a process synthesis model. The hot/cold stream “identities” are represented by classification binary variables which are (de)activated based on the relative stream inlet and outlet temperatures. Variables including stream temperatures and heat loads are disaggregated into hot and cold variables, and each variable is (de)activated by the corresponding classification binary variable. Stream inlet/outlet temperatures are positioned onto “dynamic” temperature intervals so that heat loads at each interval can be properly calculated. The proposed model is applied to two illustrative examples with variable stream flow rates and temperatures, and is integrated with a superstructure-based process synthesis model to illustrate its applicability.

Synthesis and analysis of separation networks for the recovery of intracellular chemicals generated from microbial-based conversions

Kirti M. Yenkie; WenZhao Wu; Christos T. Maravelias

More Info

2017

Bioseparations can contribute to more than 70% in the total production cost of a bio-based chemical, and if the desired chemical is localized intracellularly, there can be additional challenges associated with its recovery. Based on the properties of the desired chemical and other components in the stream, there can be multiple feasible options for product recovery. These options are composed of several alternative technologies, performing similar tasks. The suitability of a technology for a particular chemical depends on (1) its performance parameters, such as separation efficiency; (2) cost or amount of added separating agent; (3) properties of the bioreactor effluent (e.g., biomass titer, product content); and (4) final product specifications. Our goal is to first synthesize alternative separation options and then analyze how technology selection affects the overall process economics. To achieve this, we propose an optimization-based framework that helps in identifying the critical technologies and parameters.

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

More Info

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

More Info

2017

Towards sustainable hydrocarbon fuels with biomass fast pyrolysis oil and electrocatalytic upgrading

Chun Ho Lam; Sabyasachi Das; Nichole C. Erickson; Cale D. Hyzer; Mahlet Garedew; James E. Anderson; Timothy J. Wallington; Michael A. Tamor; James E. Jackson; Christopher M. Saffron

More Info

2017

The carbon efficiency of bioenergy systems is of critical importance in discussions pertaining to biomass availability for the displacement of petroleum. Classical carbohydrate fermentations to make simple alcohols are carbon inefficient as they discard 1/3 of biomass holocellulose as CO2. Biomass' lignin is typically burned for heat and power instead of liquid fuel, discarding another sizeable fraction of the biomass carbon. Carbon is the backbone element in hydrocarbon fuels and these losses limit full utilization of the carbon captured by photosynthesis. The DOE Billion-ton Study Update optimistically projects enough biomass carbon to cover 2/3 of the estimated fuel usage in the transportation sector by 2030. Fast pyrolysis combined with electrocatalytic energy upgrading using renewable electricity offers a more carbon-retentive pathway for biomass to renewable fuels. This fast pyrolysis-based sequence offers the added benefit of fixing atmospheric carbon in the form of biochar, which provides a mechanism for long-term carbon storage. An associated challenge is that the liquid "bio-oil" from biomass fast pyrolysis contains functional groups like carboxylic acids, carbonyls, and oxygenated aromatics. Their presence hinders the storage and transportation of bio-oil. We propose a potential solution with localized electrocatalytic hydrogenation as an immediate measure to stabilize bio-oil via oxygen removal and carbonyl saturation. Electrocatalytically stabilized bio-oil can be stored and/or transported to centralized refineries for further upgrading. Compared to microbial bioconversion, the strategy proposed here enables significantly higher yields of renewable hydrocarbon fuels and offers a large-scale mechanism for chemical storage of renewable but intermittently generated electrical energy as transportation fuel.

Pages