Enzymatic and Multiphase Solution Processing of Lignocellulosic Biomass

The aim of the project is to develop a continuous and environmentally friendly process using twin screw extrusion technology for enzymatic conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to simple sugars and other high value end products. A significant finding of our current research is that commercially available enzymes (cellulases) are active in N-methyl morpholine oxide (NMMO) - a solvent used for dissolving cellulose. Till date, most solvents used for dissolving cellulose (ionic liquids) kill the cellulases. This prevents a continuous process from being developed thus significantly increasing the costs of processing. Our finding will cut down on these costs and help develop a continuous process for biomass conversion. Future work will involve carrying out the enzymatic reactions in the twin screw reactor and developing the continuous process.