|Primary Industry:||Pharma & Biotech|
|Executive Summary:||Biomass resources are currently greatly underutilized in the United States and countries around the world. If effectively exploited, these resources can reduce our dependency on foreign oil while alleviating several environmental problems.
Forests are prime candidates for improvement in biomass utilization. In the harvesting of a tree, approximately 40% of the biomass is either burned or treated as a waste problem. This waste biomass can be utilized as the feedstock for fermentation processes that could produce ethanol. Ethanol production from plant substrates requires the development of an efficient pretreatment process for increasing the susceptibility of woody biomass to hydrolytic enzymes. Pretreated biomass substrates can then be hydrolyzed to glucose and converted to ethanol by conventional yeast fermentation. Biomass produced ethanol can displace gasoline usage, thereby reducing oil consumption..
Currently, steam explosion is one of the most promising methods of pretreating and fractionating woody biomass waste. However, this process has several disadvantages including degradation of cellulose and hemicellulose, reduction in yield and operating cost requirements. Also, the steam explosion pretreatment process may have upper limit pressure constraints that are defined by the maximum allowable saturated steam temperature, which can be utilized without significant product degradation.|