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Appl Biochem Biotechnol. 2009 May;156(1-3):95-106. doi: 10.1007/s12010-008-8466-y. Epub 2009 Jan 6.

Carboxylate platform: the MixAlco process part 1: comparison of three biomass conversion platforms.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-3122, USA.


To convert biomass to liquid fuels, three platforms are compared: thermochemical, sugar, and carboxylate. To create a common basis, each platform is fed "ideal biomass," which contains polysaccharides (68.3%) and lignin (31.7%). This ratio is typical of hardwood biomass and was selected so that when gasified and converted to hydrogen, the lignin has sufficient energy to produce ethanol from the carboxylic acids produced by the carboxylate platform. Using balanced chemical reactions, the theoretical yield and energy efficiency were determined for each platform. For all platforms, the ethanol yield can be increased by 71% to 107% by supplying external hydrogen produced from other sources (e.g., solar, wind, nuclear, fossil fuels). The alcohols can be converted to alkanes with a modest loss of energy efficiency (3 to 5 percentage points). Of the three platforms considered, the carboxylate platform has demonstrated the highest product yields.

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