Byung-Hwan Um

Byung-Hwan UmMy Research

Forest biomass is a promising resource for future biofuels and bioproducts. Biorefining wood into paper and chemicals is not as easy as making a single traditional paper product. Paper is made from the solid cellulose fraction of wood, removing lignin and hemicellulose components through a liquid pre-extraction enhance the quality of the pulp. Pre-extraction of hemicellulose by alkaline (Green Liquor) pretreatment produces a neutral-pH extract containing hemicellulose. One near term option is to carefully pre-extract the hemicellulose before the main pulping step and then ferment it to bioethanol. A significant difference with other lignocellulosic biomass conversion processes is that the solid fraction has high value to make pulp and paper products and is thus not converted to liquids or boiler fuel. A secondary hydrolysis step is required after primary pre-extraction to hydrolyze oligomeric sugars into monomeric sugars before fermentation. In this project, I investigate that the extent of hemicellulose recovery by pre-extraction using green liquor pretreatment and characterize the hydrolysis of the extract with respect to variable concentration via evaporation and comparing acid and enzymatic hydrolysis.

In Other Words

I make ethanol which will be used for transportation fuel from hardwood. Hardwood is basically composed of long chained sugar like concrete. Pretreatment can break complex sugars to its individually fermentable sugar components. To make fuel ethanol, it is necessary to disrupt the sugar chains. Why? The yeast used in making ethanol can just eat a single sugar. Therefore, I am looking at ways to optimize the process for breaking sugars from hardwood and turning it into bioethanol.

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Contact Information

5737 Jenness Hall, Room 302
University of Maine
Orono, ME 04469
tel: (207) 581-2210