Improved Biomass Deacetylation and Deconstruction using a Continuous Counter-Current Reactor

Xiaowen Chen, Nicholas Nagle, Erik Kuhn, Melvin Tucker

Research output: NRELPoster


Deacetylation and Mechanical Refining (DMR) process is an emerging technology that successfully demonstrated the capability to produce high titer, higher yield, low toxicity sugar and tractable lignin streams at low temperature atmospheric pressure conditions. Previous work has been performed all in batch stirred tank reactors with the scale up to 100kg/day. In this work we have adapted a shaftless inclined screw reactor to perform counter current deacetylation. Continuous counter-current extraction is practiced at the industrial scale in pulping processes to recycle the black liquor at high pressures/temperatures, enabling effective mass and heat transfer to achieve high lignin removal and efficient water/energy usages. Counter-current process steps enable high concentrations of the target compounds to be extracted into the extraction solvent and result in low residual content of the target compound in the extracted residue to increase efficiency and downstream product yields, while keeping the equipment more compact and decreased footprint dimensions compared to batch stirred tank reactors. Preliminary results have shown improved sugar yield in enzymatic hydrolysis at low enzyme loadings for the continuous counter-current deacetylation/mechanical refining process compared to the currently used batch process, while xylan losses into the black liquor are reduced up to 2/3.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2019

Publication series

NamePresented at the 41st Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals, 28 April - 1 May 2019, Seattle, Washington

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PO-5100-74640


  • biorefinery
  • continuous counter current
  • deacetylation and mechanical Refining
  • DMR
  • enzymatic hydrolysis
  • enzyme


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