Biofuels Production projects
Applications of High Intensity Ultrasound to Lignocellulosic Biofuel Production
The creation of potential fuels from cellulose must involve both chemical and physical conversions. This project explores the use of high intensity ultrasound as a pretreatment for improved delignification and processability of lignocellulose feedstocks. Functionally, lignocellulose is the plant kingdom's primary durable structural material, and an important property of such complex fibrous structures is that mass transport is the limiting factor in most chemical reactions of biomass. Ultrasonic processing provides a distinctive new method to overcome such mass transport limitations.
Researchers found that ultrasound fragmented miscanthus and increased accessibility to pores >5 nm. They also found that ultrasound in NaOH solution resulted in additional delignification and in less acetate. Sonicated samples produce more reducing sugar from enzymatic digestion than do stirred samples. After enzymatic digestion, glucose yield correlates with increase in delignification and porosity < 5 nm. Suslick’s group found no significant improvement upon sonication in H2SO4 solution. Alkaline pretreatment (but not acid) is enhanced by the physical effects of ultrasound.