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The production of cellulosic biofuels from any form of plant materials is the most promising—and most challenging—method for production of biofuels. With this technique, the cellulosic material and hemicellulose in plants is broken down into simple sugars and once again converted to ethanol by fermentation. Because of the complex nature of cellulose, production of biofuels is currently both difficult and expensive. The analytical challenge is to quantify the diverse mixture of sugars present in hemicellulose. Compositional carbohydrate analysis of feedstocks for cellulosic biofuels is essential to improve efficiency and reduce the production costs of this promising fuel source.

Dionex has solutions that address each of these unique challenges. Our ion chromatography (IC) solutions combine innovative instrumentation, standardized analytical methods, and powerful, intuitive software to quickly turn your data into results. Our integrated systems provide a complete workflow solution, including raw materials extraction and analysis, fermentation process monitoring, quality assurance testing, and carbohydrate or lipid profiling.

Today, biology is transforming the way fuels and chemicals are manufactured, from biodiesel, bioethanol, and cellulosic biofuels to fine and specialty chemicals. The greatest challenge is to develop analytical methods tailored to deliver fast, accurate, and reproducible results. Biofuel is defined as a solid, liquid, or gas fuel derived from biological material. This broad-based class of compounds can be separated into three categories: biodiesel, bioethanol, and cellulosic biofuels.

Bioethanol comes from crops such as corn, wheat, sorghum, and many varieties of grasses. With the exception of sorghum, these crops are not naturally high in sugars; however, the grains are high in starch, and the rest of the plant is rich in cellulose and hemicellulose. Those polymers can be hydrolyzed to monomeric sugar that is amenable to fermentation to ethanol and other products. Yeast fermentation is used to convert the sugars in these materials to biofuel. Bioethanol is made from renewable resources; burns clean, and can be used with current fuels as a replacement for lead as an octane-enhancer.

Biodiesel can be produced by plants that contain high amounts of oils, such as soybean, palm, or jatropha. Presently, Brazil, the Phillipines, and India, among other countries are actively cultivating and promoting the production of jatropha for creating biodiesel, and the list of countries is growing. It can also be made using algae, an important emerging technology.

Dionex leads the field in providing solutions to the most complex analytical problems as the world faces the challenge of reducing its dependence on fossil fuels.

Biomass Extraction for Biofuels

The Dionex solution to biomass sample extraction represents a commitment to protecting the environment ecosystem. The Dionex ASE® system reduces sample extraction times and greatly increases productivity by permitting faster, hands-free, automated extractions of biomass samples.

Biomass Compositional Analysis for Biofuels

Dionex’s high performance anion-exchange chromatography with pulsed amperometric detection (HPAE-PAD) delivers excellent baseline separation for quantitation of biomass-derived sugars.

Saccharification Analysis for Biofuels

The Dionex ICS-5000 RFIC system using HPAE-PAD provides researchers developing saccharification enzymes for cellulosic biofuels production the ability to separate and quantify trace-level carbohydrates of interest in the presence of multiple interfering compounds.

Fermentation Monitoring for Biofuels

Optimization of fermentation processes are critical for maximizing the yields of the final product while ensuring consistent product quality, even during scale-up of biofuels production.

Quality Assurance Analysis for Biofuels

As regulatory limits continue to decrease, powerful analytical techniques are required to detect trace levels of contaminants in complex matrices. Using the matrix elimination method with the Dionex ICS-3000 ICS, the system automatically re-concentrates chloride ions and eliminates interferences for detection limits as low as 1 ppm chloride in denatured ethanol and ethanol-gasoline blends.

Oilseed Extraction for Biofuels

Agronomists are continually investigating new ways to improve yields from oilseed crops and attempting to optimize the composition of the lipids extracted. Solvent extraction is a common method for removal of oil from oilseeds, with traditional solvent extraction methods requiring large volumes of solvent (typically several hundred milliliters) and long extraction times (8-16 h).

Lipid Profiling for Biofuels

Biodiesel fuel production requires glyceride analysis to determine the carbon-chain length and degree of unsaturation in the feedstock, along with the measurement of other residual glycerides present after the transesterification process. HPLC is proving more convenient for lipid profiling – eliminating the chemical derivatization step necessary for GC analysis of lipids.