Round-robin on biomass pretreatment/fractionation

This report is by André van Zomeren of TNO, the Netherlands.

Work Package 7.2 has successfully completed a joint research assessment via round-robin of various pre-treatment/fractionation methods across laboratories of consortium members (LNEG, ENEA, WUR, TU Delft, CENER, ASTON, TNO).

This assessment focused on three types of biomasses, hardwood (beech wood), herbaceous biomass (Miscanthus) and marine biomass (Ulva lactuca macroalgae), and various pre-treatment/fractionation methods, including steam explosion, dilute acid, dilute alkaline, hot water treatment, acetone-based Organosolv, and fractionation with ionic liquids.

Lab technician Petra Bonouvrie of TNO
Lab technician Petra Bonouvrie of TNO, Netherlands, with different fractions from lignocellulsic feedstocks.

The round robin study delivers a basis for the current performance, variations and important factors that influence the fractionation of biomass as well as the applicability of the fractionation methods for different valorisation routes of the biomass components. Performance was evaluated on the basis of biomass components’ distribution across product fractions – with special attention on the digestability of cellulosic products of interest for further valorization via e.g. fermentation. The information of the round robin can be used to assess the needs for international standardisation of the developed fractionation and analysis methods to obtain more comparable results. It is noted that the selection of a promising fractionation method is strongly interlinked with subsequent questions on the feedstock selection as well as to the aimed products that need to be obtained in the downstream processing after the fractionation. The data and information presented in this work will assist the scientific community to elucidate these connections in a comprehensive and consistent experimental frame.