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Study: Bubbles boost efficiency of biorefinery systems

Researchers say their breakthrough can be scaled for industrial biomass processing.
By Brooks Hays   |   March 1, 2016 at 2:18 PM

SENDAI, Japan, March 1 (UPI) -- A team of researchers in Japan have developed a relatively simple pretreatment strategy to boost the efficiency of biorefinery systems.

In the pretreatment process the leaves and stalks of corn ground into powder and soaked in a solution of sodium percarbonate. The treated biomass powder is then processed by a "hydrodynamic cavitation system."

During its path through the constriction system, the pressurized powder spawns bubbles. As the microbubbles form and collapse, the localized energy works to break down the cellulose fibers.

When they compared their process to other pretreatment strategies, researchers at Tohoku University found they could make more fuels and chemicals from biomass while using less energy.

Researchers, who described their breakthrough in the journal Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research, say their breakthrough can be scaled for industrial biomass processing.

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