Separations Consortium Publishes Three-Year Overview of Technical Advances, Process Economics Influence, and State of the Science

Separations Consortium researchers publish a report detailing the Consortium’s advancement of science and technology related to bioprocessing separations from 2016-2019. The Consortium’s research and development leveraged three core capabilities: i) materials development and evaluation, ii) process development, and iii) analysis and computation to address four critical challenges in biochemical and thermochemical processing of biomass to fuels and chemicals. First, the Consortium targeted the fractionation of lignin to enable valorization of this portion of biomass that offers diverse, complex, and valuable building blocks and products. Second, Consortium researchers developed technologies to enable process intensification, which can reduce equipment needs, energy consumption, and waste generation, thereby cutting bioprocessing capital costs and rendering processes more efficient. Third, the Consortium sought to recover carbon from dilute aqueous streams that are common to bioprocessing; recovering dilute carbon can improve process efficiency and economics. Finally, Consortium researchers designed and developed new materials and catalysts to reduce targeted foulants and poisons in bioprocessing streams that can limit the lifetime of downstream catalysts or fermenting microorganisms. In total, Consortium researchers developed separations technologies for ten bioprocesses, addressed nine target compounds in bioprocessing, developed ten materials, and evaluated four processes for techno-economic feasibility and sustainability impacts. The report documents technical accomplishments, industry partnerships, and publications/patents. Finally, the report provides a brief overview of the Consortium’s future direction.

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