Navigation Links
Process can cut the cost of making cellulosic biofuels

EAST LANSING, Mich. A patented Michigan State University process to pretreat corn-crop waste before conversion into ethanol means extra nutrients don't have to be added, cutting the cost of making biofuels from cellulose.

The AFEX (ammonia fiber expansion) pretreatment process, developed by Bruce Dale, University Distinguished Professor of chemical engineering and materials science, uses ammonia to make the breakdown of cellulose and hemicellulose in plants 75 percent more efficient than when conventional enzymes alone are used. Cellulose in plants must be broken down into fermentable sugars before they can be turned into biofuel.

"Doctoral student Ming Lau and I have shown that it's possible to use AFEX to pretreat corn stover (cobs, stalks and leaves) and then hydrolyze and ferment it to commercially relevant levels of ethanol without adding nutrients to the stover," Dale said. "It's always been assumed that agricultural residues such as corn stover didn't have enough nutrients to support fermentation. We have shown this isn't so."

"The research also shows that the chemical compounds created when the stover goes through the AFEX process can improve the overall fermentation process," Lau added. "This is at odds with the general perception that these compounds are detrimental and should be removed."

The research is published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Currently, pretreating cellulose with acid is a common way to break the material down into fermentable sugars. But after acid pretreatment, the resulting material must be washed and detoxified. That removes nutrients, leading to the mistaken idea that crop waste lacks the necessary nutrients, Dale said.

Cellulosic material pretreated with the AFEX process doesn't have to be washed or detoxified, allowing ethanol to be created from cellulose without added nutrients or other steps.

"Washing, detoxifying and adding nutrients back into the pretreated cellulose are three separate steps," Dale said. "Each step is expensive and adds to the cost of the biofuel. Breaking down cellulose into fermentable sugars cost effectively has been a major issue slowing cellulosic ethanol production. Using AFEX as the pretreatment process can dramatically reduce the cost of making biofuels from cellulose."

The next step could be a pilot plant, Dale said, perhaps at MBI International. MBI, a subsidiary of the MSU Foundation, partners with universities and companies to commercialize technology.

"There are several companies including the Mascoma Corp., which plans to open one of the nation's first cellulosic ethanol plants here in Michigan that may be interested in using this technology," Dale said. "We are working to make the AFEX technology fit these companies' needs."


Contact: Bruce Dale
Michigan State University

Related biology news :

1. CIC to Host Webinar Featuring Independent Research Firm: Enabling Straight Through Processing - Why the Insurance Industry Needs Electronic Signature Technology
2. Evolutionary process more detailed than previously believed, study shows
3. Unique transatlantic tie-up to understand the aging process
4. Rivers are carbon processors, not inert pipelines
5. New papers offer insights into process of malarial drug resistance
6. Ants may help researchers unlock mysteries of human aging process
7. LSUHSC research identifies key contributor to Alzheimers disease process
8. Repairing DNA damage: Researchers discover critical process in cancer treatment
9. Major source of radon exposure overlooked at former Ohio uranium-processing plant
10. Nanoscopic screening process to speed drug discovery
11. So-called sandfish could help materials handling and process technology specialists
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Process can cut the cost of making cellulosic biofuels
(Date:11/2/2015)... 2015  SRI International has been awarded a contract ... services to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) PREVENT Cancer ... expertise, modern testing and support facilities, and analytical instrumentation ... toxicology studies to evaluate potential cancer prevention drugs. ... Cancer Drug Development Program is an NCI-supported pipeline to ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 2015  Connected health pioneer, Joseph C. Kvedar ... technology-enabled health and wellness, and the business opportunities that ... The Internet of Healthy Things . Long before ... existed, Dr. Kvedar, vice president, Connected Health, Partners HealthCare, ... moving care from the hospital or doctor,s office into ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... Oct. 27, 2015 Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: SYNA ... that Google has adopted the Synaptics ® ClearPad ... to power its newest flagship smartphones, the Nexus 5X ... --> --> Synaptics ... provide strategic collaboration in the joint development of next ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... -- Studies reveal the differences in species ... the way for more effective treatment for one of the ... --> --> Gum disease ... cats, yet relatively little was understood about the bacteria associated ... conducted by researchers from the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Nov. 25, 2015 Orexigen® Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: ... in a fireside chat discussion at the Piper Jaffray ... . The discussion is scheduled for Wednesday, December ... .  A replay will be available for 14 ... , Julie NormartVP, Corporate Communications and Business Development ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nov. 24, 2015 Cepheid (NASDAQ: CPHD ... at the following conference, and invited investors to participate ...      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 11.00 a.m. ...      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 11.00 a.m. ... New York, NY      Tuesday, December ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ:  AEZS) (TSX: AEZ) ... of the Toronto Stock Exchange, confirms that as of ... corporate developments that would cause the recent movements in ... --> About Aeterna Zentaris Inc. ... Aeterna Zentaris is a specialty biopharmaceutical company engaged ...
Breaking Biology Technology: