Year of Publication

2013

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (MSBiosyAgE)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Agriculture; Engineering

Department

Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Sue E. Nokes

Abstract

Pretreatment is an essential step in biofuel production from lignocellulose. Disruption of the lignin structure gives enzymes and fermentation organisms access to long chains of cellulose and hemicellulose. For this project’s purposes, the pretreatment must work within the framework of an on-farm butanol bioprocessing facility. Alkaline hydrogen peroxide (AHP) is a delignification method that potentially provides several advantages. At the alkaline pH, powerful hydroxyl radicals are formed; which attack lignin. The objectives of this study were to determine if AHP removes substantial lignin for the feedstocks, corn stover, wheat straw, switchgrass and miscanthus, and to determine if AHP acts as a biocide? Compositional analysis determined if lignin was removed and HPLC data were used to determine whether or not Clostridium thermocellum hydrolyzed the pretreated material. Sterility was determined by plating the AHP material. All materials showed approximately 10% lignin removal with AHP. AHP increased structural carbohydrate concentrations for wheat straw, switchgrass and miscanthus. Corn stover showed no benefit from adding peroxide to a traditional alkaline pretreatment. AHP appears to suppress visible microbial growth for the first 24 hours after pretreatment. If AHP does not provide the additional hygienic effects, AHP does not provide a significant advantage over sodium hydroxide pretreatment.

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