Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Chemistry

Thesis Advisor

Arthur J. Stipanovic

Keywords

renewable energy, high energy electron beam pretreatment, biodelignification, hot water extraction

Abstract

Lignocellulosic biomass has the potential to become an integral feedstock in the production of alternative fuels. The presence of a recalcitrant matrix of polymeric materials consisting of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin complicates the retrieval of valuable constituent sugars. Effective and efficient pretreatment is required to reduce this recalcitrance. Electron beam (EB) pretreatment is an option which has been shown to enhance the liberation of sugars from hardwood biomass and enhance the fermentation of wood-derived sugars, as opposed to other pretreatment options which create inhibitory by-products. In this study, untreated white pine extract was shown to inhibit ethanol production, and EB pretreatment was seen to mitigate this effect. Sugar yields from the saccharification of white pine treated with EB were much higher than untreated samples, with samples treated with high dosages approaching 40% conversion of cellulose after 24 hours. Additionally, the presence of EB pretreated biomass was seen to inhibit the growth of P. stipitis under fermentation conditions. The enhancement effect previously seen in hardwoods was explored with respect to soluble ion concentration and lignin content, and a link was established suggesting a higher content of both components enhance fermentation.

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