University of Delaware Develops One-Step Process for Extracting Sugars

A University of Delaware research team has invented a more efficient process for extracting sugars from organic waste from forests and farms. This biorenewable feedstock could serve as a cheaper, sustainable substitute for the petroleum used in manufacturing consumer goods.

Industry currently separates sugars from lignin via a two-step process. They use chemicals in the first step, and expensive enzymes in the second step. This process makes the resulting sugars expensive. The process invented at UD, however, is just one step. UD's technology combines the pretreatment step and the hydrolysis of cellulose and hemicellulose in one pot and operates at considerably low temperatures.

The key to the technology is the use of a concentrated solution of an inorganic salt in the presence of a small amount of mineral acid. The concentrated salt solution requires a minimal amount of water. The solution swells the particles of wood or other biomass, allowing the solution to interact with the fibers. The unique properties of the salt solution make the method very efficient.


This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)

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