A team of researchers, led by Professor Charles E. Wyman, at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering have developed a versatile, relatively non-toxic and efficient way to convert raw agricultural and forestry residues and other plant matter into biofuels and chemicals. Co-solvent Enhanced Lignocellulosic Fractionation (CELF) brings researchers closer to producing fuels and chemicals from biomass at high enough yields and low enough costs to become a viable alternative or replacement for petroleum-based fuels and chemicals.
The key to the technology is using tetrahydrofuran (THF) as a co-solvent to aid in the breakdown of raw biomass feedstocks to produce valuable primary and secondary fuel precursors at high yields at moderate temperatures. Those fuel precursors can then be converted into ethanol, chemicals or drop-in fuels. CELF can consolidate multiple processing steps – such as pretreatment, sugar hydrolysis, and sugar catalysis – into one step.
In a paper in the journal Green Chemistry, the UC Riverside researchers showed that using CELF with highly selective acid catalysts called metal halides was particularly effective at simultaneously producing the fuel precursors furfural and 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (5-HMF) directly from raw maple wood. Furfural and 5-HMF are widely recognized renewable chemicals for their conversion into gasoline, jet, and diesel range liquid fuels.
For more information, visit: www.ucr.edu