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Caes B.R.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Caes B.R.,U.S. Department of Energy | Caes B.R.,Siegwerk United States Co. | Teixeira R.E.,U.S. Department of Energy | And 4 more authors.
ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering | Year: 2015

The quest to achieve a sustainable supply of both energy and chemicals is one of the great challenges of this century. 5-(Hydroxymethyl)furfural (HMF), the long-known dehydration product of hexose carbohydrates, has become an important nexus for access to both liquid fuels and chemicals. One such biofuel is 2,5-dimethylfuran (DMF), which is a product of HMF hydrogenolysis and contains an energy density 40% greater than that of ethanol. In recent years, much work has been done to effect the chemical conversion of fructose, glucose, cellulose, and even lignocellulosic biomass into HMF in high yield. Here, we provide an overview of methods to access HMF from carbohydrates with the highest potential to reach an industrial scale, along with a discussion of unmet technological needs necessary for commercialization. © 2015 American Chemical Society.


Underkofler K.A.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Underkofler K.A.,U.S. Department of Energy | Teixeira R.E.,Hyrax Energy, Inc. | Pietsch S.A.,Hyrax Energy, Inc. | And 3 more authors.
ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering | Year: 2015

Abundant lignocellulosic biomass could become a source of sugars and lignin, potential feedstocks for the now emergent biorenewable economy. The production and conversion of sugars from biomass have been well-studied, but far less is known about the production of lignin that is amenable to valorization. Here we report the isolation of lignin generated from the hydrolysis of biomass dissolved in the ionic liquid 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride. We show that lignin can be isolated from the hydrolysate slurry by simple filtration or centrifugation, and that the ionic liquid can be recovered quantitatively by a straightforward wash with water. The isolated lignin is not only free from ionic liquid but also lacks cellulosic residues and is substantially depolymerized, making it a promising feedstock for valorization by conversion into fuels and chemicals. © 2015 American Chemical Society.


Patent
Hyrax Energy, Inc. | Date: 2012-09-07

In one aspect, provided herein are efficient methods for using ionic liquids. In some embodiments, only a small amount of ionic liquid is lost in a chemical process. For example, described herein is a method for separating one or more biomass components from an ionic liquid comprising contacting a composition comprising an ionic liquid and a biomass component with a fluid.


Patent
Hyrax Energy, Inc. | Date: 2014-03-04

Without limitation, the disclosure provides processes for (a) dissolving biomass in ionic liquids, (b) deconstructing cellulose, hemicellulose and/or lignin into derivatives including fermentable sugars, (c) separating the biomass derivatives from the ionic liquid, and (d) converting the biomass derivatives to useful fuels or chemicals, either dissolved within or separated from the ionic liquid. It should be understood that processes described herein can be used in isolation or in combination with each other.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 69.95K | Year: 2013

Hyrax Energy, Inc. is the first company to spin-out of the DOEs Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) and is the exclusive owner of intellectual property that enables biorefineries based on ionic liquids that that operate at a fraction of the cost and carbon footprint of competing technologies. Ionic liquids are true solvents for cellulose, which promises amongst other things to greatly simplify the feedstock supply chain by processing many different non-standardized and non-pre-processed feedstocks including mixtures thereof in a single facility. However, the higher cost of ionic liquids ($10/kg) requires a more stringent recovery method from solid by-products (lignin, ash and proteins) than would be needed for a common organic solvent ($1-3/kg). Here we propose to develop a method to separate solid by-products and recover ionic liquid solvent with very high recovery ratios. In Phase I, we will employ standard filtration and water- wash equipment to separate solids and recover & gt;99.9% of the ionic liquid (solids mass basis). Here, our focus will be placed on selecting equipment specs, operating conditions, and number of unit operations in series. Pressurized CO2 may be attempted as a means to enhance solids removal (by anti-dissolution) and ionic liquid recovery (by expanding fibrous particles). In Phase II, we will build and test a solids recovery module that will be integrated into our demonstration plant (1-5 ton/day). Extended operation of the demo plant will generate sufficient data to determine the economic viability of this strategy, the critical hurdle to enable a potentially game-changing cellulosic sugar biorefinery.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 180.00K | Year: 2013

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop a novel means for isolating solutes including fermentable sugars from ionic liquids. Ionic liquids are the only known solvent for woody biomass and have been shown to support the breakdown of cellulose to fermentable sugars with yields exceeding 90%. However, commercialization of an ionic liquid-based biorefinery process has been impeded by the lack of a technology for separating fermentable sugars from ionic liquid with high recovery of the ionic liquid. The present project will use unique physical properties of ionic liquids and water to effect separation of sugars from ionic liquids with less than 1% of the ionic liquid being lost in the sugar product.

The broader impact/commercial potential of this project spans several strategically important industries including fuels, chemicals, plastics and other materials. Most current and pending renewable routes to these industries rely on fermentable sugars as a feedstock. However, sugars are presently only available from corn, sugarcane and other crops that compete with our food supply, driving up prices particularly affecting lower income societies. Instead, the present project will develop the pathway to a cost effective biorefinery process that produces sugars from non-food plant material.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: SMALL BUSINESS PHASE II | Award Amount: 750.00K | Year: 2015

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research Phase II project will be the development of an alternative, renewable route to fuels and chemicals that is based on biomass that does not compete with the food supply. The process will use underutilized feedstocks such as corn stover and forestry residue to produce fermentable sugars, which can be converted into various raw materials and finished products. The project will add to the scientific understanding of ionic liquid bioprocessing and has the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stimulate rural job creation.

The technical objective of this Phase II research project is to develop an integrated process for converting lignocellulosic biomass into fermentable sugars. The process uses ionic liquids that dissolve biomass and afford monomeric sugars at high yields via a reaction that is both simple and fast. What is lacking is an affordable method for separating sugars while recycling the ionic liquid. In Phase I the project demonstrated an efficient strategy for sugar recovery. By the first half of Phase II the goal is to integrate sugar recovery into the process front end. Unit operations taking raw biomass to clean sugars and lignin will be performed in batch open loop in order to close mass balances and set a baseline for further process development. Then, the loop will be closed with the addition of ionic liquid cleaning and drying. By the end of this project, the objective is to demonstrate a stable and high-yielding process, including experimentally validated techno-economic projections showing unprecedentedly low capital and operating costs.


Grant
Agency: National Science Foundation | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 750.00K | Year: 2015

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research Phase II project will be the development of an alternative, renewable route to fuels and chemicals that is based on biomass that does not compete with the food supply. The process will use underutilized feedstocks such as corn stover and forestry residue to produce fermentable sugars, which can be converted into various raw materials and finished products. The project will add to the scientific understanding of ionic liquid bioprocessing and has the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stimulate rural job creation. The technical objective of this Phase II research project is to develop an integrated process for converting lignocellulosic biomass into fermentable sugars. The process uses ionic liquids that dissolve biomass and afford monomeric sugars at high yields via a reaction that is both simple and fast. What is lacking is an affordable method for separating sugars while recycling the ionic liquid. In Phase I the project demonstrated an efficient strategy for sugar recovery. By the first half of Phase II the goal is to integrate sugar recovery into the process front end. Unit operations taking raw biomass to clean sugars and lignin will be performed in batch open loop in order to close mass balances and set a baseline for further process development. Then, the loop will be closed with the addition of ionic liquid cleaning and drying. By the end of this project, the objective is to demonstrate a stable and high-yielding process, including experimentally validated techno-economic projections showing unprecedentedly low capital and operating costs.


Grant
Agency: National Science Foundation | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2013

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop a novel means for isolating solutes including fermentable sugars from ionic liquids. Ionic liquids are the only known solvent for woody biomass and have been shown to support the breakdown of cellulose to fermentable sugars with yields exceeding 90%. However, commercialization of an ionic liquid-based biorefinery process has been impeded by the lack of a technology for separating fermentable sugars from ionic liquid with high recovery of the ionic liquid. The present project will use unique physical properties of ionic liquids and water to effect separation of sugars from ionic liquids with less than 1% of the ionic liquid being lost in the sugar product. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project spans several strategically important industries including fuels, chemicals, plastics and other materials. Most current and pending renewable routes to these industries rely on fermentable sugars as a feedstock. However, sugars are presently only available from corn, sugarcane and other crops that compete with our food supply, driving up prices particularly affecting lower income societies. Instead, the present project will develop the pathway to a cost effective biorefinery process that produces sugars from non-food plant material.


PubMed | U.S. Department of Energy, University of Wisconsin - Madison and Hyrax Energy, Inc.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: ACS sustainable chemistry & engineering | Year: 2015

Abundant lignocellulosic biomass could become a source of sugars and lignin, potential feedstocks for the now emergent bio-renewable economy. The production and conversion of sugars from biomass have been well-studied, but far less is known about the production of lignin that is amenable to valorization. Here we report the isolation of lignin generated from the hydrolysis of biomass dissolved in the ionic liquid 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride. We show that lignin can be isolated from the hydrolysate slurry by simple filtration or centrifugation, and that the ionic liquid can be recovered quantitatively by a straightforward wash with water. The isolated lignin is not only free from ionic liquid, but also lacks cellulosic residues and is substantially depolymerized, making it a promising feedstock for valorization by conversion into fuels and chemicals.

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