Second generation biofuels, biomass exploitation, fibre modification, yeast screening & propagation
The Institute of Food Research has recently installed a Cambi™ Steam Explosion Pilot Plant and yeast screening and propagation facility for R&D into production and commercialisation of biofuels and fibrous material from lignocellulose (biomass).
The Steam Explosion Pilot Plant (located within a purpose-built Biorefinery Centre) will be used to modify biomass by a Thermal / Hydrolysis Process (THP-E) which operates at up to 230°C. This weakens, pre-degrades and ruptures the feedstock biomass.
For bioalcohol production, enzymes can be added to convert cellulose and other polysaccharides to sugar mixtures which may then be fermented to completion by specialist yeast strains selected from a comprehensive strain library using the new automated yeast screening system in association with the National Collection of Yeast Cultures (www.ncyc.co.uk). Sufficient bulk yeast for the process will be produced using the yeast propagator. Residual material may be used in composite and natural fibre development. The Steam Explosion Pilot Plant can also be utilised in the area of fibre modification and we welcome enquiries from researchers, SMEs and larger companies with interests in this area.
Potential applications include:
· High temperature hydrolysis leading to enhanced enzymatic degradation of wood and other lignocellulose for bioethanol production
· Modification of cellulose fibres such as cotton and flax
· Production of composites
· Modification of wool fibres
· Release of cell wall bound phenolics e.g. ferulic acid
· Hemp fibre processing
Once operational in autumn 2010, this open access equipment will benefit the wide range of regional SMEs involved in advanced biofuel commercialisation, as well as catalysing industry engagement with the region’s knowledge base. For further information and commercial enquiries, please contact Dr Kerry I’Anson, Head of Operations, IFR Extra.