Ionic Liquid Pretreatment Process for Biomass Is Successfully Implemented at Larger Scale

Project Overview
Positive Impact: DOE-funded researchers have shown that a new, highly effective pretreatment process used in the production of biofuel can be executed at a larger scale than ever achieved before.
Locations: California
Partners: The Joint BioEnergy Institute, Advanced Biofuels Process Demonstration Unit at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
EERE Investment: $120,000
Clean Energy Sector: Sustainable transportationPDF

DOE-funded researchers have shown that a new, highly effective pretreatment process used in the production of biofuel can be executed at a larger scale than ever achieved before.

Before biofuel can be generated from lignocellulosic feedstocks like grasses, wood products, woody perennials, and agricultural waste, the molecules that make up these plants’ tough cell walls must be broken down (via pretreatment) into other carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are converted to sugars via further processing; the sugars can then be fermented into ethanol.

The pretreatment process, known as ionic liquid pretreatment, had succeeded in the laboratory, but only in very small batches. This DOE-funded project demonstrated that ionic liquid pretreatment can be successfully executed in quantities 600 times larger than previously achieved. (Subsequent conversion of the pretreated biomass to sugars was successful as well). The success of this project indicates that ionic liquid-based technology can be effectively scaled to larger operations, and, if further improved, has the potential to help realize a commercially viable process for breaking down lignocellulosic biomass.

The Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) works with a broad spectrum of industrial, academic, agricultural, and nonprofit partners across the United States to develop and deploy commercially viable, high-performance biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower from renewable biomass resources in America to reduce our dependence on imported oil.

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