Monitoring and removal of fermentation inhibitors

Enabling the use of a wide range of lignocellulosic feedstocks for the production of fuels, biochemicals, and energy towards commercial applications it is essential to step up from bench scale experiments to pilot scale. Whereas BE-Basic programs so far have developed these concepts at laboratory scale, these are now reaching sufficient maturity to start bench & pilot experimentation. In parallel, the Bioprocess Pilot Facility (BPF) in Delft has upgraded and expanded its infrastructure to include bench and pilot scale pretreatment and hydrolysis equipment for which the BPF staff needs to be trained on meaningful projects to reach the same quality level as currently is the case for the fermentation and downstream processing field.

In parallel projects, inside as well as outside BE-Basic, industry partners have progressed on implementing the first generations of lignocellulosic technologies (DSM/ Poet in USA, DSM in the Brazilian Granbio/Alagoas context, Corbion, KLM/SkyNRG/DAB in various integrated feedstock projects worldwide, etc). The potential feedstocks are widely different on various places worldwide such as woody biomass, residues of grasses and cereals (sugar cane bagasse, corn stover, switch grass) as well as oil crop residues. Much of this has been executed in third party infrastructure, since the BPF facilities were being prepared and upgraded. Now that these are becoming available, further developments of the next generations of lignocellulosic technologies are foreseen centric in the BPF. In the current project, BE-Basic partners, TU Delft, DSM and BPF have now joined forces to develop the BPF Pretreatment and Hydrolysis sections to the same high-quality level as the rest of the BPF-infrastructure and thus enables us to benchmark the BPF performance to other international pilot facilities.

Additionally, it is also important to have a fast bioanalytical methodology to fingerprint and predict the performance and environmental impact of hydrolysate streams on fermentation processes, as well as to bio-detoxify possible inhibitors of fermentation. In Flagship 7 and 8 of BE-Basic, BDS, MLS and VU have developed an array microbial bio-reporters and cocktails of thermostable, bio-detoxifying microbes/enzymes using metagenomics technology that seems extremely promising in both respects in an integral manner. When successful, this could facilitate transfer (and prediction) performance outcomes of pilot facilities worldwide tremendously. This project includes a section to test this methodology on available hydrolysate streams. The TKI 2013-inzet project entails this part within this larger BE-Basic project.

Overall aim and results of this project and inzet project are expected to significantly improve our capacity to efficiently convert various streams of feedstock into biofuels and biochemicals.