Biological Conversion of Pyrolytic Products to Ethanol and Lipids
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Pyrolysis is a promising technology that can convert up to 75 % of lignocellulosic biomass into crude bio-oil. However, due to the complex chemical compositions of bio-oil, its further refining into fuels and high value chemicals faces great challenges. This dissertation research proposed new technologies for biological conversion of pyrolytic products derived from cellulose and hemicellulose, such as anhydrosugars and carbolic acids to fuels and chemicals. First, the pyrolytic anhydrosugars (chiefly levoglucosan (LG)) were hydrolysed into glucose followed by neutralization, detoxification and fermentation to produce ethanol by ethanogenetic yeast and lipids by oleaginous yeasts. Second, a novel process for the conversion of C1-C4 pyrolytic products to lipid with oleaginous yeasts was investigated. Third, oleaginous yeasts that can directly convert LG to lipids were studied and a recombined yeast with LG kinase was constructed for the direct convertion of LG into lipids. This allowed a reduction of existing process for LG fermentation from four steps into two steps and eliminated the need for acids and bases as well as the disposal of chemicals. The development of genetic modified organisms with LG kinase opens a promising avenue for the direct LG fermentation to produce a wide range of fuels and chemicals. The simplification of LG utilization process would enhance the economic viability of this technology.