Year of Publication

2015

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 Nokes

Abstract

The following full-factorial study compared fungal activity on lignocellulosic biomass that was inoculated with three different amounts of fungus, and grown using three different airflow rates. These treatments were compared to a control which consisted of biomass that was not inoculated but was exposed to the same growth conditions in the environmental chamber. The objectives of the following experiment were to determine the inoculum density and airflow rate required to optimize Phanerochaete chrysosporium lignin degradation. Additionally, this study quantifies the saccharification yield from the pretreated switchgrass.

The impact of substrate bulk density and substrate particle size on fungal growth were compared to determine if the particle size or the substrate bulk density has the predominant influence on the growth of the fungus, and subsequent pretreatment effectiveness quantified as an increase in glucose yields and lignin degradation. The particle size tests were controlled for bulk density; all three particle sizes were tested at a bulk density of 80 kg/m3. To test the density, three different bale densities were prepared controlling for particle size. The density tests were performed on small-scale bales made of 4 inch cut pieces of switchgrass compressed to the correct density. Therefore; density tests had the same particle size throughout all treatments, and particle size tests had the same density through all treatments. Carbohydrate accessibility post-pretreatment was examined through enzymatic saccharification and determination of glucose yields in the treatments and controls.

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