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Ph.D. thesis opens doors to obtaining chemical products and materials using biomass as raw material
Date:6/4/2010

ass or sub-products in an easy and clean manner and, moreover, if ethanol is used as a solvent to carry out the method, the results are even better. Ethanol being a bio-fuel and obtainable from biomass, this solvent required for carrying out the method can be extracted from the very same material to be refined. The caustic soda method, on the other hand, does not wholly meet the aims of bio-refinery: it does not completely and cleanly recover all the sub-products of the biomass, precisely because it requires the energy value of those components to undertake the process.

Clean and applicable products

With the biomass fractionated, in this second stage of refining, Ms Gonzlez tested a number of treatments for the separation and clearing of the sub-products obtained. More concretely, she treated the lignins and the hemicelluloses, seeking to obtain products from them. Both have varied applications. Lignin facilitates the formation of polymers, for example. From hemicelullose simple sugar is obtained, which mediates in obtaining certain products used in plastics.

In this stage of refining, in the case of lignin, Ms Gonzlez carried out ultrafiltration using membranes. The treatment proved to be successful: she obtained contaminant-free fractions of lignin, with high quality properties and suitable thermal behaviour. Also, auto-hydrolysis was applied to the liquid resulting from the separation of the lignin, and thus obtaining simple hemicellulosic sugars.

Steps to the future

The process of refining at a bio-refinery is a complex one. On the one hand, as a first step, Ms Gonzlez proposed the application of methods tested in her thesis to the paper and pulp industry, given that this uses biomass. On the other, she committed to integrated bio-refinery, i.e. she believes that one single bio-refinery should produce various types of products and energy and, to this end, it will need to integrate a variety of processes for t
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Contact: Amaia Portugal
a.portugal@elhuyar.com
34-943-363-040
Elhuyar Fundazioa
Source:Eurekalert

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