Environmental assessment of mild bisulfite pretreatment of forest residues into fermentable sugars for biofuel production
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Sugar production via pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulosic feedstock, in this case softwood harvest residues, is a critical step in the biochemical conversion pathway towards drop-in biofuels. Mild bisulfite (MBS) pretreatment is an emerging option for the breakdown and subsequent processing of biomass towards fermentable sugars. An environmental assessment of this process is critical to discern its future sustainability in the ever-changing biofuels landscape. This work discusses some of the environmental impacts of designing and operating a sugar production facility that uses MBS as a method of treating cellulosic forest residuals. The impacts of each unit process in the proposed facility are highlighted. A comparison to other sugar-making process is detailed and will inform the growing biofuels literature.