Conference Dates

March 8-13, 2009


Conversion of renewable biomass to chemicals and energy is imperative to sustain our way of life as known to today. Fossil fuels have become the predominant energy source today. However, fossil deposits are limited and not renewable. Biomass is a reliable source of chemicals and energy that can be replenished at the rate of our needs. The biorefinery is a concept for the collection of processes used to convert biomass to chemicals and energy. The Biorefinery is a “catch and release” way of using carbon that is beneficial to the environment and the economy. Discussions are made for the elements of the wood-based biorefinery as proposed at SUNY ESF (College of Environmental Science and Forestry): hot-water extraction, hydrolysis, membrane separation / concentration, pulping, and biological conversion of sugars to biofuels, chemical, and biopolymers, conversion of residual woody biomass to reconstituted wood products. Hemicelluloses are the most easily separable main component of woody biomass and thus form the bulk of the extracts obtained in hot-water extraction of wood. Hydrolysis of hemicelluloses produces 5-carbon sugars (mainly xylose), 6-carbon sugars (mainly glucose and mannose), and acetic acid. Fermentation of wood extract hydrolysate can produce biofuel: ethanol and butanol. Brief discussions will also be presented on the utilization of the residual woodchips: pulp and paper, reconstituted wood products, wood pellets, and burning / gasification for energy. Hemicellulose contributes to the weight but not much to the strength of the material and thus hemicellulose-extracted woody biomass might produce lighter stronger particle board products.