Feedstock handling and processing effects on biochemical conversion to biofuels



Abating the dependence of the United States on foreign oil by reducing oil consumption and increasing biofuels usage will have far-reaching global effects. These include reduced greenhouse gas emissions and an increased demand for biofuel feedstocks. To support this increased demand, cellulosic feedstock production and conversion to biofuels (e.g. ethanol, butanol) is being aggressively researched. Thus far, research has primarily focused on optimizing feedstock production and ethanol conversion, with less attention given to the feedstock supply chain required to meet cost, quality, and quantity goals. This supply chain comprises a series of unit operations from feedstock harvest to feeding the conversion process. Our objectives in this review are (i) to summarize the peer-reviewed literature on harvest-to-reactor throat variables affecting feedstock composition and conversion to ethanol; (ii) to identify knowledge gaps; and (iii) to recommend future steps. © 2010 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd