Integrating separation and conversion - Conversion of biorefinery process streams to biobased chemicals and fuels
Abstract The concept of the integrated biorefinery is critical to developing a robust biorefining industry in the USA.Within this model, the biorefinery will produce fuel as a highvolume output addressing domestic energy needs and biobased chemical products (high-value organics) as an output providing necessary economic support for fuel production. This paper will overview recent developments within two aspects of the integrated biorefinery—the fractionation of biomass into individual process streams and the subsequent conversion of lignin into chemical products. Solvent-based separation of switchgrass, poplar, and mixed feedstocks is being developed as a biorefinery “front end” and will be described as a function of fractionation conditions. Control over the properties and structure of the individual biomass components (carbohydrates and lignin) can be observed by adjusting the fractionation process. Subsequent conversion of the lignin isolated from this fractionation leads to low molecular weight aromatics from selective chemical oxidation. Together, processes such as these provide examples of foundational technology that will contribute to a robust domestic biorefining industry.