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Conversion of lignocellulosic waste into butanol


Mixed community bioreactors to convert (ligno)cellulosic feedstocks into the liqued biofuel butanol

PI: Lars Angenent

NRI 71.2 Biobased Products and Bioenergy Production Research


The overall goal of the proposed study is to improve the conversion efficiency of lignocellulosic feedstock (i.e., fractionated corn fiber) into a liquid biofuel (i.e., butanol) by understanding mixed culture microbial processing.  We propose to convert corn fiber into butyrate with a mixed culture, first-stage bioprocess, and subsequently produce butanol from a butyrate-rich substrate in a second-stage bioprocess.  The supporting objectives are: 1.  to ascertain the effects of pretreatment on the molecular structure and microbial break down efficiency and rate for a lignocellulosic feedstock; 2.  to manipulate a diverse community bioprocess to produce predominantly butyrate; and 3.  to optimize the secondary bioprocess for butanol production from a mixed substrate.  Lab-scale anaerobic sequencing batch reactor (ASBR) will be operated to first investigate the effects of pretreatment of corn fiber on microbial hydrolysis and then to ascertain operating procedures to produce predominantly butyrate.  The effects of a mixed substrate on butanol production will also be studied for a continuous culture.  Research on hydrolysis is important, because this step limits the technical and economic efficiency of bioproduction of fuels from agricultural wastes (goals of project area 71.2).  Our proposed work fits with the CSREES strategic plan, because converting agricultural waste into biofuels enhances economic opportunities for agricultural producers and rural life in general (goals 1 and 2).  In addition, producing carbon-neutral biofuels also protects and enhances the US natural resources and environmental quality (goal 5).



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