From Polymers of Sugar to Fermentable Sugar
Deconstruction is a major step in biomass conversion and entails the breakdown of the complex carbohydrates in biomass to fermentable sugars. These sugars can then be converted into biofuels, biochemicals, and other bioproducts through bio and/or chemical catalysis. The goal of biomass deconstruction is simple: achieve the highest possible fermentable sugar yields in the most economical and sustainable way possible.
Breaking Down Recalcitrance
Biomass is naturally resistant to chemical or biological deconstruction pathways due to the presence of lignin, which stabilizes biomass structures. Overcoming “biomass recalcitrance” is essential to the success of biomass deconstruction and subsequent unit operations.
Altering and Converting
Pretreatment and saccharification are the two major processes in deconstruction. Pretreatments are designed to alter the physical and chemical characteristics of biomass and greatly impact downstream operations, including saccharification and fermentation. Saccharification converts sugars from polymeric to monomeric and/or dimeric form.