Date of Award

5-2013

Degree Type

Report

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biological and Irrigation Engineering

First Advisor

Charles Miller

Abstract

For economical conversion of cellulosic biomass to biofuel sources, such as ethanol and biogas, high concentrations of biomass must be processed to minimize downstream costs associated with dilute solutions. Further, the fundamental processes that drive biomass transformation must be understood in order to optimize conversion processes and to efficiently overcome the technological and economic barriers of biofuel production. One such barrier includes the recalcitrance of biomass to degradation. In order to overcome the recalcitrance of biomass, this study focuses on pretreatment strategies to break down the cell wall components and to make the biomass more susceptible to enzymatic action.

Specifically, this study focuses on the use of alkaline peroxide pretreatment under varying conditions for processing lignocellulosic biomass. Optimal conditions for alkaline peroxide pretreatment were identified for increasing subsequent enzymatic saccharification to fermentable sugars.

This study also evaluated the use of alkaline pretreatment for algal biomass that is present in the Logan Lagoon Wastewater System in order to enhance the anaerobic digestibility of the algae. Different bacterial seed sludges were also evaluated for increasing gas production from anaerobic digestion of algal biomass.

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