LBNet funds awarded

BIV01: Testing the effect of polyethylene glycol as an enzyme enhancer in lignocellulosic hydrolysis

Project lead
Charles J. Banks
Institute
University of Southampton

Academic Partner: Charles J. Banks ,University of Southampton

Industrial Partner: Nicholas Thompson, Fiberight Ltd

Public Summary
Fiberight Ltd will work with the University of Southampton on the production of second generation biofuels from waste lignocellulosic feedstock, with a particular focus on municipal solid waste (MSW). The work will progress the concept of extracting clean fibre from MSW through a washing process, followed by the use of commercial enzyme preparations to prepare a sugar-rich fermentation substrate. The aim of the current work funded by a BIV is to improve the yield of sugar obtained from the use of proprietary enzyme preparations. Specifically, the work will look at the potential for enhancing enzymatic hydrolysis using an additive aimed at enhancing enzyme penetration into the structure of the lignocellulosic fibres. The work will attempt to elucidate the mechanism by which this enhancement occurs, especially when it interacts with other compounds in the complex matrix of MSW. The collaboration will generate new experimental data and allow it to be analysed in the context of Fiberight’s business activity. It will contribute towards improving the existing technology used by the company and provide an answer to an important technical problem.

Public Project Outcome
The business of Fiberight Ltd is the production of second generation biofuels from waste lignocellulosic feedstocks, with a particular focus on municipal solid waste (MSW). The company is also interested in developing other value-added commodities based on a sugar platform. Over the past four years Fiberight has progressed the concept of extracting clean fibre from MSW through a washing process, and then using commercial enzyme preparations to prepare a sugarrich fermentation substrate. Although reasonably content with the yield of sugar obtained from the use of proprietary enzyme preparations, the company believes that even better yields and higher efficiency in enzyme use could be obtained through further research and development. In conjunction with the University of Southampton as the research provider, work was therefore carried out to look at the potential for enhancing enzymatic hydrolysis using surfactant additives. The research showed that use of the chosen additive led to a 40% reduction in the amount of enzyme required for breakdown of the fibre product, and also provided insights into the mechanism by which this enhancement occurs. As the cost of enzymes is one of the major factors affecting process economics the result is important in both scientific and financial terms, and has fully demonstrated the value of this type of collaboration.

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