Unmet Need: A cost-effective and efficient methodology to convert lignin into high-value products
Conversion of biomass derived lignin to liquid fuels has the promising potential to significantly improve carbon utilization and economic competitiveness of biomass refineries. The current challenge, however, is the propensity of the aromatic lignin macromolecular assembly to condense and degrade, thereby producing high amount of relatively intractable solid residues in bio refineries. This invention relates to improving the method of pretreating lignocellulosic biomass to maximize the yields of fermentable sugars and lignin that can then be treated to produce commercially useful fuels. In particular, the invention provides improved water-only and dilute acid flow through pretreatment methods which are carried out at high temperature and which provide high yields of desired products, e.g. fermentable sugars and lignin.
The Technology: Hydrothermal Flow through Pretreatment of Lignocellulosic Biomass to Maximize Fermentable Sugar and Lignin Yields
Lignocellulosic biomass (e.g. Poplar wood) is pretreated with our patented process and result in more than 98% solid solubilization of the original biomass. From this mixture there are a number of compounds, notably xylan, glucose, and lignin that can be recovered. The majority of the lignin is recovered in its insoluble form, making it an effective recovery method, ideal for industrial scale production. Additionally, recovered lignin can be converted into commercially valuable fuel via further refinement techniques developed by WSU researchers, making this process ideal of indusial scale production of communally valuable fuel production.
• Conversion of lignin to value-added chemicals including gasoline, jet fuel and high-value chemicals for pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry
• This invention produces commercially useful yields of stock chemicals such as fermentable sugars and lignin.
• The process can be easily incorporated into industrial scale processes currently being utilized in bio refineries allowing the overall cost of adoption low and the potential benefits gained from adopting this system high.
• Additionally, recovered materials can be refined into commercially valuable fuels.
Issued US patent - https://www.google.com/patents/US9518076?cl=en