Advanced biofuels production from residual lignocellulosic biomass combining biological and chemo-catalytic transformations
Mentor: Marta Paniagua Martín
Phone: (+34) 914887367
University: Universidad Rey Juan Carlos
Partner Host Institution: N.A.
Keywords: Lignocellulosic wastes; circular economy; biofuels; catalysis; biological treatments; Streptomyces actinobacteria

Advanced biofuels production from residual lignocellulosic biomass combining biological and chemo-catalytic transformations

Nowadays, the sector of transportation fuels is heavily dependent on petroleum, a non-renewable fossil hydrocarbon source. This energy resource also presents serious environmental, socio-political and economical drawbacks, like the generation of large emissions of gases during the combustion, which favours not only the climate change but also the atmospheric pollution. Likewise, the geographic distribution of oil deposits produces geopolitical conflicts, local instability and fluctuations in the prices of energy resources. Such a situation makes necessary the implementation of policies aimed at replacing petroleum, and other non-renewable energy sources, with sustainable resources.

In this context, the only renewable carbon-based resource abundant enough to have the potential to, at least partially, substitute oil as raw material is biomass. There are three general types of biomass-derived feedstocks that are appropriate for the production of renewable fuels: starchy feedstocks (including sugars), triglyceride feedstocks, and lignocellulosic feedstocks. Among them, lignocellulosic biomass is the most abundant, since it contributes to the structural integrity of every plant. Specifically, the use of inexpensive residual lignocellulosic biomass as starting material for biofuels production has become a promising alternative with a huge potential.

Residual lignocellulosic biomass comes from pruning and harvesting activities, forestry or forest clearing, or from industries that work with biomass, such as the paper and wood industries, widely available. Additionally, given its bio-waste nature, its recollection and valorisation would allow reaching the objectives defined as priorities in the strategy of «circular economy», where the waste generated by the productive system is reused and transformed into raw materials that enter again in multiple points of the value chain of the productive system.

In particular, the objective of the present proposal is a collaborative research between the University of Alcalá and the Rey Juan Carlos University for the production of advanced biofuels from residual lignocellulosic biomass, combining both biological treatments and chemo-catalytic transformation stages. In this way, it seeks to obtain chemical intermediates derived from biomass wastes that are susceptible to be used for energy purposes. The innovative character of this research line includes, as a remarkable aspect, the sequential use of two treatments, biological and chemical. First, a biological treatment involving the use of actinobacteria from the Streptomyces genus for the controlled fermentation of biomass and, secondly, a chemical treatment, by means of selected catalysts and reaction conditions, of the products resulting from the biological process in order to obtain the desired products (biofuels and bioproducts). This combination of treatments is only viable combining the complimentary experience of two different research groups, specialists in their respective areas.

Departament: Energy and Chemical Technology, Environmental and Chemical Technology, Mechanical Technology, Analytical Chemistry and Department of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Research Group: Chemical and Environmental Engineering Group (GIQA) Microbial Degradation of Lignocellulose: Biotechnological and Environmental Applications Group (MICRODEG)
More Information:
Relevants projects on the area: Urban bioeconomy: from biowastes to biofuels and biobased chemicals (BIOTRESCM). Comunidad de Madrid – 2018 .
Relevants publications on the area: 1.- Melero, J.A., Morales, G., Iglesias, J., Paniagua, M., López-Aguado, C., Wilson, K., Osatiashtiani, A. (2017) Efficient one-pot production of ϒ-valerolactone from xylose over Zr-Al-Beta zeolite: rational optimization of catalyst synthesis and reaction conditions. Green Chemistry, 19, 5114-5121.
2.- María de la Torre; Raquel Martín-Sampedro; Úrsula Fillat; M. Eugenia Eugenio; Alba Blánquez; Manuel, Hernández; M. Enriqueta Arias and David Ibarra. (2017) Comparison of the efficiency of bacterial and fungal laccases in delignification and detoxification of steam pretreated lignocellulosic biomass for bioethanol production. Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, 44, 1561-1573.