Rutgers researchers find way to reduce cost of cellulosic biofuels

January 14, 2020 |

In New Jersey, researchers from Rutgers University have developed a new process that could make it much cheaper to produce biofuels such as ethanol from plant waste and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

Their approach, featuring an ammonia-salt based solvent that rapidly turns plant fibers into sugars needed to make ethanol, works well at close to room temperature, unlike conventional processes, according to a Rutgers-led study in the journal Green Chemistry.

The solvent can also extract more than 80 percent of the lignin in plant waste. Lignin, which binds to and fortifies plant fibers, could be used to help upgrade valuable aromatic chemicals in the future. The research benefited from collaborative efforts and access to a high-tech Bio-SANS instrument at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for analysis of how complex biological systems like plant waste respond during processing to better understand how cellulose is dissolved at a molecular level.

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Category: Research

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