Despite significant developments in producing sustainable liquid transportation fuels from renewable biomass resources, end-product toxicity remains a key, productivity-limiting factor in most conventional bioprocesses. One effective approach to relieve biofuel product toxicity is through its in situ recovery from the culture, which requires low cost, low energy, and biocompatible separation technologies that selectively remove biofuels from dilute aqueous solutions. Low energy separation processes have been proposed, but most prior studies have focused on model, biofuel-water solutions; real processes are challenged by complex biological mixtures prone to cause fouling and poor material biocompatibility, which adversely impact separation performance and overall process viability. Here, we propose to systematically examine magnetic, mesoporous, carbon-based materials to elucidate how fundamental physicochemical properties impact adsorbent performance for biofuel (ethanol and n-butanol) recovery in both idealized solutions and growing cultures. Fundamental and mechanistic characterizations of biofuel-adsorbent interactions, as well as nonideal interactions (fouling phenomena), will provide structure-function relationships in real systems. Ultimately, the productivity enhancements that can be realized through continuous, in situ biofuel recovery will be assessed by integrating these materials with biofuel-producing microbial cultures.
|Effective start/end date||8/15/12 → 7/31/16|
- National Science Foundation (NSF): $241,451.00