The main focus of our studies will be on the production of ethanol as it has great potential to displace the use of petroleum. However, the development of high value co-products can significantly improve the process economics and is an integral part of lignocellulose biorefinery. Accordingly, the Network will focus on the development of high value co-products from the hemicellulose and lignin streams, the latter of which has not found widespread use thus far for co-product development. Ultimately, all of the bench scale results and advances developed in the Bioconversion Network must be tested under larger scale conditions. Particular challenges arise in lignocellulosic conversion due to slurry viscosity and slurry consistency, which impact heat transfer, mass transfer, and ease of pumping through process vessels. These factors impact the rate and efficiency of enzyme hydrolysis and fermentation. Accordingly, larger scale testing is essential to properly investigate hydrolysis and fermentation under the rheological conditions encountered in a high consistency slurry. Potential lignocellulosic biomass con-version technology must be assessed in terms of their impacts in economic and environmental terms using process economic and life cycles models. Technical and process advances can alter the outcome of the models. Thus, results of the Network research must be integrated into these models to allow for their refinement, with the goal of assessing the effectiveness of the bioconversion platform, in terms of its ability to meet economic and environmental goals for Canada.
Theme Leaders: Yaman Boluk and Emma Master
Overall Aims: The production of high value co-products can significantly improve the process economics of future lignocellulosic biorefineries. Moreover, the bench scale advances developed in the Bioconversion Network must be tested under larger scale conditions, and their impacts evaluated in economic and environmental terms. Accordingly, the overall aims of this research theme are to: 1) Analyze the potential impacts of the Bioconversion Network's research program in improving the environmental and economic performance of the bioconversion platform; 2) develop high value co-products from hemicellulose and lignin streams and evaluate the contribution that co-products might make to the platform, as measured by their potential to add economic value and improve net environmental performance; and 3) establish conditions to scale-up enzyme hydrolysis and fermentation of pretreated substrates.