The Effect of Biomass Densification on Structural Sugar Release and Yield in Biofuel Feedstock and Feedstock Blends

Edward Wolfrum, Nicholas Nagle, Ryan Ness, Darren Peterson, Allison Ray, Daniel Stevens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus Citations


In this work, we examined the behavior of feedstock blends and the effect of a specific feedstock densification strategy (pelleting) on the release and yield of structural carbohydrates in a laboratory-scale dilute acid pretreatment (PT) and enzymatic hydrolysis (EH) assay. We report overall carbohydrate release and yield from the two-stage PT-EH assay for five single feedstocks (two corn stovers, miscanthus, switchgrass, and hybrid poplar) and three feedstock blends (corn stover-switchgrass, corn stover-switchgrass-miscanthus, and corn stover-switchgrass-hybrid poplar). We first examined the experimental results over time to establish the robustness of the PT-EH assay, which limits the precision of the experimental results. The use of two different control samples in the assay enabled us to identify (and correct for) a small bias in the EH portion of the combined assay for some runs. We then examined the effect of variable pretreatment reaction conditions (residence time, acid loading, and reactor temperature) on the conversion of a single feedstock (single-pass corn stover, CS-SP) in order to establish the range of pretreatment reaction conditions likely to provide optimal conversion data. Finally, we applied the assay to the 16 materials (8 feedstocks in 2 formats, loose and pelleted) over a more limited range of pretreatment experimental conditions. The four herbaceous feedstocks behaved similarly, while the hybrid poplar feedstock required higher pretreatment temperatures for optimal results. As expected, the yield data for three blended feedstocks were the average of the yield data for the individual feedstocks. The pelleting process appears to provide a slightly positive effect on overall total sugar yield.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)478-487
Number of pages10
JournalBioenergy Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, The Author(s).

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-67906


  • Biomass feedstocks
  • Densification
  • Enzymatic hydrolysis
  • Pelleting
  • Pretreatment
  • Recalcitrance
  • Response surface


Dive into the research topics of 'The Effect of Biomass Densification on Structural Sugar Release and Yield in Biofuel Feedstock and Feedstock Blends'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this