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San Diego, CA, United States

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.

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.

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.

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.

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