Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation

8-2021

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

M. Eng.

Department

Chemical Engineering

Degree Program

Chemical Engineering, MS

Committee Chair

Sathitsuksanoh, Noppadon

Committee Member

Gerstle, Jim

Committee Member

Thompson, Lee

Author's Keywords

pretreatment; rice straw; biomass

Abstract

Due to the pollution of fossil fuels due to greenhouse emissions, researchers continue to search for alternative methods that allow for the clean production of energy, fuels, and polymer fibers. A method currently under investigation is the use of lignocellulosic biomass as a solution to current problems with energy and polymer fiber production. Through the process of pretreatment, possibilities for lignocellulosic biomass expand due to improved accessibility of the cellulose and hemicellulose which can be broken down via enzymatic hydrolysis into C5 and C6 sugars such as xylose and glucose. This study investigated the fermentation of the rice straw into fuel and fibers. Previous studies have tested varying pretreatment methods on rice straw, yet those studies require additional energy to obtain higher temperatures. This study demonstrates an alkaline pretreatment method at room temperature to reduce the energy usage of the process. This study found that the following pretreatment conditions: NaOH concentration of 2.5 weight%, treatment time of 6 hours, and biomass loading of 10 weight% yielded the greatest glucose recovery from rice straw. The enzymatic hydrolysis yielded ~75% glucose recovery and ~60% xylose recovery from the rice straw treated at the optimal conditions. The findings from this study are important because the results are a step towards providing low energy alternatives to the high temperature treatments and making a cost-effective method for industrial use.

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