Alkaline Pretreatment of Wood Products

Along the lines of the papers that we’ve been reading lately, I came across a scientific article about a pre-treatment study for the use of alkaline pretreatment on wood to improve the breakdown for biofuel.  Using an NaOH treatment, the researchers pretreated both softwood spruce and hardwood birch.  They tested the effects at a wide range of temperatures, and then enzymatically hydrolyzed and then either fermented into ethanol or digested to biogas.  The temperature differences were wide for what worked better for either wood, but there was a marked improvement in methane production when the woods were pretreated rather than being broken down without pretreatment. This improvement could be a very good thing, especially considering the issues that are raised when we talk about global warming and methane production.

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