Henry R. Bungay

Biomass Conversion to Chemicals

Steam explosion of wood chips breaks down hemicellulose and weakens cellulose. Washing the solids from explosion removes sugars and soluble products of value for feeding cattle. The residue of cellulose and lignin is separated using enzymatic hydrolysis to glucose for fermentation to fuel alcohol. Lignin is little affected by the process and can be used as an excellent adhesive formulation for plywood or chipwood. Projects in our lab will speed commercialization of this process by improving the separation steps and recycling expensive enzymes. Current emphasis is on wood that has been preserved with creosote or arsenical chemicals. The credits for accepting such wood far outweight the profits from sale of the products of the refinery.

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Last update: 6/15/94