Developments in 2,3-butanediol production from biomass



In previous research, VTT, the Technical Research Centre of Finland, developed a technique for the hot water extraction of tannins from soft wood bark and successfully transferred it to the lab at BBEPP. At BBEPP, this technique to obtain cellulose and lignin/tannin fractions was performed and evaluated and successfully scaled up to pilot scale.

In parallel to this development, partners TECNALIA have been working on the saccharification – the process of breaking down a complex carbohydrate, in this case cellulose, using hydrolysis into its simplest sugars – of the cellulosic residue generated by the purification of lignin from the woody material, poplar.

Tests have selected the best enzymes and hydrolysis conditions that can increase the glucose yield and minimise the production of inhibitors that could affect the course of fermentation at the next step. The hydrolysate, this is the substance left over from hydrolysis, was best obtained using the purification method, otherwise enzymes remain in their crude form and cannot be used.

Once the substance was obtained, BIOSYNCAUCHO, a company that aims to develop high-added value chemical products from renewable raw materials, tested and determined the best conditions for the fermentation of sugars to  2,3-butanediol  (BDO), a renewable chemical building block. Promising results from poplar’s second-generation sugars have revealed close comparisons to 2,3-BDO production using first-generation sugars - sugars found in food crops using standard processing technologies.

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