National Laboratory of Energy and Geology (LNEG)
Title: Biotechnology & Green Chemistry of Polysaccharides for Biofuels and Bio-based Products
Host: José Moura
Fossil fuels depletion and climate change, in addition to the current global energy demands require the search for suitable bio-based products and biofuels from renewable sources. This work shall focus on biochemical-based technologies for lignocellulosic biomass (LCB) conversion paying attention to recent advances on biomass deconstruction techniques and their integration on enzymatic hydrolysis, fermentation technology and chemical conversion reactions towards biofuels and bio-based products.
It is well known that LCB recalcitrance hampers the economic viability of most advanced technologies for bio-based products and next generation biofuels. The development of disruptive methodologies for LCB pre-treatment based on low-temperature (120-140ºC) processes with a low energy requirement and use of non-hazardous catalysts and/or green solvents to avoid the use of mineral acids are a key breakthrough for high-added-value bioproducts valorisation of all LCB fractions. These new technologies should also benefit of better energy-efficient separation and recovery of the three main LCB fractions. Complementary, the use of on-site production of enzymes using inexpensive pre-treated lignocellulosic solids provides an attractive integrated solution for the conversion of lignocellulosic feedstock into biofuels and chemicals.
While cellulose is breakdown to cellobiose and/or glucose for gasoline substitutes blends (eg. ethanol, iso-butanol), or for biochemicals specialities, hemicellulose breakdown is mostly targeted for building blocks as intermediary molecules for different value chains. Lignin, a non-sugar moiety-based polymer, can be either used for energy purposes (combustion) or in a better biorefinery integration, upgraded to higher-added value biomaterials.
An outlook of current biotech developments for valorization of the main lignocellulosic biomass components: cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin shall be discussed.
Francisco Gírio, PhD, is Principal Researcher and Head of Bioenergy Department of LNEG-National Laboratory of Energy and Geology, Lisbon, Portugal. In his research career participated as researcher in more than 47 research projects on lignocellulose bioconversion being coordinator of 14. He is currently member of the Management Board of Bioenergy Joint Program of the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA-Bioenergy), member of the Steering Committee of the European Technology and Innovation Platform on Bioenergy (ETIP-Bioenergy), member of the Scientific Council and Board of Trustees of IMDEA Energy (Spain) and President of SIADEB - Iberoamerican Society for the Development of Biorefineries. He represents Portugal in the European Committee on Biofuels Sustainability and was the main author of the current Portuguese Plan for Promotion of Biorefineries published last Oct 25th (RCM nº63/2017). He did publish over than 90 peer-review papers and more than 200 papers and lectures in international conferences.