Thursday, February 25, 2010

Nano Carbonic Solvothermal Technology Transforms Woody Cellulose Biomass into Food, Fuels and Chemicals


Global estimates for the biofuels market in 2015 exceed $65 billion with expected growth rates of 15% per annum. A Georgia company believes they have the right technology to exploit that market.  

Nano Carbonic Hydrothermal Treatment (NCHT) provides a process for cellulose hydrolysis to recover foods, fuels and chemicals for woody biomass.Nano Carbonic Solvothermal Technology (NCST) provides methods for performing cellulose hydrolysis in sub- or near-critical water and carbon dioxide. Optionally, the cellulose may be solubilized with near critical or supercritical water prior to hydrolysis, according to inventor Srinivas Kilambi President & CEO of  Sriya Innovation, Inc (Marietta, GA).  Sriya Innovation is developing bio-refinery technology. 

Nano Carbonic Solvothermal and Hydrothermal Technology use supercritical carbon dioxide and sub-critical, near-critical or supercritical water in a solvothermal process. The reaction may be performed as a single stage (hydrolysis only) or a two-stage (solubilization and hydrolysis) reaction. The cellulose produced by supercritical fractionation of biomass, amorphous and/or crystalline, may be used alone or together with additional cellulose to produce glucose and fructose. 

The single-stage NCHT process for hydrolyzing cellulose may be generally as follows: cellulose is contacted with a fluid mixture comprising supercritical CO2 and sub-critical or near-critical water to form a reactant mixture at a hydrolysis temperature and hydrolysis pressure for a hydrolysis time period (e.g. the residence time in a reactor), wherein a reaction occurs and forms one or more hydrolysis products; and then the reaction is quenched. One or more hydrolysis products (e.g. glucose, fructose, mannose, cellobiose, and oligomers) may be obtained and recovered from the reaction, according to U.S. Patent Application 20100048884,

In a two stage process for cellulose hydrolysis, the cellulose is solubilized prior to the hydrolysis. The two-stage process may be generally as follows: (1) cellulose is solubilized by contacting the cellulose with near-critical or supercritical water at a solubilization temperature and a solubilization pressure for a solubilization time period (e.g. the residence time in a reactor); and (2) the solubilization reaction is quenched. The solubilized cellulose is then contacted with a fluid mixture comprising supercritical CO2 and sub-critical or near-critical water to form a reactant mixture at a hydrolysis temperature and hydrolysis pressure for a hydrolysis time period (e.g. the residence time in a reactor), wherein a reaction occurs and forms one or more hydrolysis products; and then the reaction is quenched. One or more hydrolysis products (e.g. glucose, fructose, mannose, cellobiose, and oligomers) may be obtained and recovered from the reaction. While the first stage (the solubilization stage) is optional, the two stage process may in some embodiments provide higher product yields than the single stage process.

The cellulose used can be obtained from various sources and in various forms, e.g. .alpha.-cellulose fibers, bleached cotton (natural cellulose), and cellulose produced from fractionation of a biomass, e.g. a lingo-cellulosic biomass such as wood, corn stover, wheat straw, bagasse, solid organic waste and the like. 

Sriya’s primary focus is on manufacturing high value add biochemicals with large existing markets. Current biochemicals in production or under development include: biocrude, erythritol, ethanol, furfural, glucose, gycolaldehyde, glycolic acid, lignin, monoethylene glycol, phenolics, sorbitol, terephthalic acid, vanillin and xylitol.

 FIG. 4 depicts an example of a reactor system for a continuous two-stage process for cellulose hydrolysis in the Nano Carbonic Solvothermal Technology (NCST) process

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