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Biofuels & Biomass Conversion

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Near Term Objectives


C5 platform based biorefinery

  • Sugar extraction and isolation technologies: Focus is on C5-sugars.  Develop cost-effective and green processes for selective extraction of sugars using low lignin containing biomass such as grain hulls – goal is to maximize sugar yield while minimizing sugar degradation.  Isolate the  extracted sugars from the dilute hydrolyzate solution using novel and low energy consuming technologies such as boron chelation chemistry.

  • Co-products from residual fibers:  Identify and produce value added co-products from the residual biomass after C5-sugar extraction.  Near term focus is to produce high surface area carbons for various applications including energy storage.

  • Biofuels and biochemicals – lab scale processes to produce biochemicals and high energy density biofuels from the isolated C5 sugars.  Current focus is on cyclopentadiene and bicyclopentane from xylose


Coal replacement renewable solid fuels

  • Develop lab and pilot processes to developed torrefied biomass derived solid fuels. Develop fundamental understanding of densification of torrefied biomass.  Produce hydrophobic and durable briquettes from torrefied wood biomass.

New biomass crops for biofuels

  • Develop multi-purpose crops such as kenaf and hemp as cost effective feedstocks for biorefineries.  Integrate C5 and C6-based biorefinery processes for these bast fiber producing biomass feedstocks.


Mid Term Objectives


C5 platform based biorefinery

  • Sugar extraction and isolation technologies: Set up a pilot plant to scale up C5-sugar extraction and isolation processes from lab to pilot / demonstration scale.

  • Complete a detailed techno-economic analysis and a thorough life cycle analysis.

  • Co-products from residual fibers:  Produce kg scale activated carbon fibers and provide samples for battery manufacturers and other customers for prototype production.

  • Biofuels and biochemicals – Produce cyclopentadiene and bicyclopentane samples from xylose for customer validation.


C6-based applications

  • Develop value added cellulose products such as MCC, CMC, and nanocellulose.

  • Extend C5-isolation technology to C6 isolation.

  • Develop processes for C6-based 2nd and 3rd generation biofuels.

Coal replacement renewable solid fuels

  • Demonstration scale torrefaction and densification plant for woody biomass.  Extend the torrefaction and densification processes to other biomass feedstocks. 


New biomass crops for biofuels

  • Develop “all natural” light weight composites using bast and core fibers from kenaf and hemp.  Develop novel retting processes to integrate with the C5-biorefinery process.


Long Term Objectives


C5 platform based biorefinery

  • Working with a 3rd party, establish a demonstration scale plant for C5-biorefinery incorporating the multiple co-product strategies. 


C6 platform based biorefinery

  • Establish pilot scale plant


Coal replacement renewable solid fuels

  • License the briquetting process for commercial implementation. 


New biomass crops for biofuels

  • Help establish bast fiber (e.g., hemp) feedstock based bioproduct and biofuel production facilities.



Jagannadh Satyavolu, PhD
Theme Leader for Biofuels & Biomass Conversion
Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research
University of Louisville

Lutz Hall Room 435, 200 East Shipp Street Walk
Louisville, KY 40292



502-852-8619 fax
Email Dr. Satyavolu

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