Fast dissolution and hydrolysis of wood

  Biomass is renewable and rich, and mainly in the form of lignocelluloses. Its annual production is equivalent to ten times of the global energy consumption. Lignin (20%), cellulose (50%) and hemicellulose (25%) are three major constituents of a typical lignocellulosic biomass (e.g., wood and grass), all of which could be hydrolyzed. The production of biofuels based on edible food was unacceptable in developing countries, especially populous countries such asChina. Therefore, it is needed to develop novel bio-refinery based on lignocellulosic biomass for biofuels.

  Professor Zhen Fang in biomass group of Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG), CAS ( found that wood powders were completely dissolved in hot-compressed water within 1.5 seconds when wood powders and dilute alkaline solution were rapidly heated to high temperature and high pressure. Wood micro-particles were obtained by precipitation after quenching the “homogeneous wood solution” immediately. On the other hand, when the “wood solution” was heated to higher temperature or hold longer time, wood could be totally homogeneous hydrolyzed into glucose for subsequent ethanol production. The solubilized “biomass solution” provides more convenient for subsequent and continuous processing of wood, as the treatment of liquid petroleum.  This finding of “fast dissolution and hydrolysis” will open up a new research field for biomass refining. The author also designed a new flow reactor to totally dissolve wood powders for successive production of wood micro-particles, glucose (for bioethanol production), hydrogen and oil. Production of hydrogen has been successfully tested using this flow reactor. This findings were published in“American Institute of Chemical Engineers Journal” and “International Journal of Hydrogen Energy”.


Related references:

1. Zhen Fang*, C. Fang, Complete Dissolution and Hydrolysis of Wood in Hot Water, AIChE Journal, 54(10), 2751-2758 (2008).


2. Zhen Fang* et al. Catalytic hydrothermal gasification of cellulose and glucose, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 33(3), 981-990 (2008).



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