Enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulosic biomass

Enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulosic biomass first phase in the production of gas from cereal straw

The biogas production process is a complex system in which many factors intervene. In general, digestion consists in taking advantage of the waste to obtain this biofuel from the carbon present in the so said waste.

Most of the waste worldwide is high in cellulose and complex chains that hardly have this carbon accessible for digestion and transformation into biogas.

We have spent years researching how to make the carbon present in cellulose (and other complex chains) accessible for its digestion and the greatest successes have been in the area of ​​enzymatic hydrolysis of these compounds.

Certain enzymes, mostly produced by different species of fungi, are capable of simplifying and breaking down complex cellulose chains, making carbon accessible to the microorganisms present in biodigesters.

Molecular structure of the cellulose chain, it breaks down into glucose so that it is accessible to the microorganisms in the biodigester.
Cellulose chain that must be broken down into glucose to be accessible to the micro-organisms in the biodigester. A glucose is the one marked in red, the enzymes cut that chain into the smallest ones. It is what our bacteria that produce enzymes achieve.

While it is true that it works, the production of these enzymes has a very high cost, so there are so far few ways to put theory into industrial practice.

As we say, cellulose is one of the most abundant wastes in the world, and solving the problem of its use, economically and accessible to the industry, could mean a revolution in the energy sector.

Cellulose is present in all plant materials from agriculture, among others (straw from any cereal, wood, plant waste, etc.). It is clear that this is the basis of the world’s food and therefore a great source of potential energy.

Biotechnological solutions for Biogas production

The hydrolysis stage is the first in biogas production. It is the one that simplifies the obtaining of carbon to the microorganisms present in the biological consortium of the biological reactor.

Making organic matter accessible to microorganisms accelerates the process of obtaining biogas, as well as its greater purity.

Amapex Environment, in its determined commitment to contribute to the circular economy and to meet the objectives of the European Union’s Green Deal, has invested a large part of its R&D in finding solutions for this particular issue.

According to two separate studies carried out in cooperation with the universities of Ottawa (Canada) and the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain), we have created an economic process to make available to the microorganisms present in anaerobic biogas digesters, the carbon present in the cellulosic materials.

The proposal consists of a pre-treatment of the cellulosic matter with the system developed by us that is capable of producing effective enzymes in the digestion of this matter. Breaking the complex chains makes carbon accessible, once the material produced in this pretreatment is introduced into the biodigesters.

This pretreatment produces enzymes without the need for the reproduction of these by fungi that until now were used in enzymatic hydrolysis, which significantly reduces the cost of this very effective treatment.

By developing systems of this type, we are taking a first step for the industry to be able to produce biogas from cheap, ecological and easily accessible material such as agricultural residues, without the need to invest in high-priced enzyme products.

We provide our own enzyme production system that improves biogas production thanks to the enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulose.

Amapex Environment continues its research to implement this process in other compounds that are difficult to digest, such as lipids. Studies that will contribute to improvements in the treatment of these industrial waste and that we aspire, shortly, to be able to offer as another of our biotechnology solutions.