Abstract by Collin Stocksdale
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Pretreatment of Lignocellulose with Caldicellulosiruptor bescii
Production of biogas, a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide, by anaerobic digestion with microbes has gained interest as a source of consistent, reliable, renewable energy. Anaerobic digestion relies on the conversion of organic waste and lignocellulosic materials into biogas. Digestion of lignocellulose is challenging because of the refractory nature of lignin and cellulose. One method for enhancing the anaerobic digestibility of biomass is by biologically pretreating with Caldicellulosiruptor bescii (C. bescii), a thermophilic obligate anaerobe. C. bescii breaks down lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose into small molecules with a high rate and efficiency. After pretreatment, the solution is feed into an anaerobic digester where a consortium of bacteria converts the small molecules into methane and carbon dioxide. The purpose of this work is to determine the improvements in conversion efficiency and rate of biogas production from lignocellulosic materials pretreated with C. bescii. A new method utilizing micro-vessels has been developed with integrated pressure sensors to follow the pretreatment and anaerobic digestion process in real time.