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High-Speed Biomass Recalcitrance Pipeline Speeds Up Bio-Mass Analysis

Robotic pipeline allows for rapid analysis of optimal substrate/enzyme combination for efficient bio-fuel production.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Ames Laboratory

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Technology Marketing SummaryPipeline analysis speeds up the process for the selection of plant species with the lowest natural recalcitrance (resistance to sugar conversion) as well as the enzymes that can most efficiently break down cellulose into fermentable sugars. The Biomass Recalcitrance Pipeline was created by the BioEnergy Science Center (a collaboration of 20 universities, national laboratories, and industrial partners) in order to develop a fundamental understanding of the factors controlling the release of sugar from biomass feedstock. The assay can begin to identify the plant genes and resultant expressed carbohydrates responsible for recalcitrance. Once the chemistry of recalcitrance is understood, optimal, low-recalcitrance plant species can be grown, providing an ongoing supply for renewable biotransportation fuel.DescriptionThe Biomass Recalcitrance Pipeline uses a robot to pinch off exactly 5 milligrams of different poplar and switch grass sawdust samples and places each in a separate chamber, allowing for highly efficient analysis of 2,000 different samples at one time. The most unique aspect of the plate is that it acts as both the reactor vessel for acid and heat pretreatment of the biomass and as the subsequent enzyme reactor for the release of glucose, xylose, and other sugars. The instrument analyzes both how well each enzyme can release sugars while simultaneously taking part of each sample and analyzing the cell wall structure and genetic characteristics that contribute to recalcitrance.Benefits
  • Allows screening of hundreds of samples simultaneously, rather than a few at a time.

  • Chamber can handle severe temperatures, pressures and pH conditions needed to screen for recalcitrance.

  • Allows for analyses and discovery of both the optimal plant and the optimal enzyme simultaneously.

  • Lowers research costs by increasing efficiency of sample testing 100 fold.
Applications and Industries
  • Bio-fuels

  • Ethanol

  • Pulp and paper

  • Food Processing

  • Packaging

  • Chemical
More InformationPlates and components are commercially available at Aspen Machining. Contact:
Bill Everitt
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Application 20100105570
Multi-Chamber Pretreatment Reactor for High Throughput Screening of Biomass
The disclosure provides reactors for rapid pretreatment of multiple biomass samples in a simple, process-driven, high throughput screening assay. This disclosure also provides methods and systems for rapid, high-throughput pretreatment and subsequent enzyme hydrolysis testing of multiple biomass samples.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory 10/09/2009
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated

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To: Eric Payne<>