Pretreatment of Woody Biomass for Biofuel Production
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Biofuel production from woody biomass through the sugar platform requires efficient production of fermentable sugars either chemically and enzymatically by hydrolyzing polysaccharides in wood cell walls. Enzymatic sugar production is a mature technology that can produce high quality sugars but requires a pretreatment step to open wood cell wall structure to improve its accessibility to enzymes, because nature produces wood as a structural material that is not easily accessible to most microbes to deconstruct into basic building blocks such as simple sugars. Unfortunately, pretreatment is the most expensive step in biofuel production through enzymatic saccharification and fermentation. This is especially true for woody biomass due to its high lignin content and strong physical integrity. Pretreatment softwood and harvest softwood forest residue, the feedstock NARA project proposed to use, is even more difficult. Most existing pretreatment processes cannot produce good enzymatic digestibility from softwood. In this webinar, I will outline the basic principles of pretreatment, its limitations, and its effect on downstream co-product development. Especially, I will discuss the SPORL pretreatment NARA adopted for bio-jet fuel production, its versatility, performance, kinetics based process scale-up, and lignin co-product. Webinar available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hu-SHlVisWc.