Mohammed Moniruzzaman, Ph.D.
Vice President, Biomass Technology
BioEnergy International, LLC
BioEnergy International is a new generation biotechnology company committed to develop and deliver advanced technologies to produce clean, environmentally beneficial fuels and specialty chemicals from renewable sources. The emergence of lignocellulosic biomass as a renewable energy resource is eagerly anticipated in many countries around the world as a means to decrease dependence on imported oil, reduce air pollution, and quickly and effectively impact greenhouse gas emissions. Recent growth of the fuel ethanol industry has established the U.S. Midwest, with starch from corn as the main feedstock, as a leading ethanol-producing region. Lignocellulose, such as, sugar cane bagasse, corn stover, woods, etc., however, constitutes the world’s most widely available low-cost renewable resource. Biomass-based technologies to produce fuels & chemicals are rapidly evolving and bottlenecks are being identified that need to be overcome to achieve widespread commercialization. Current research is driven by the need to reduce the cost of production. The preferred method is to thermochemically pretreat the biomass material and subsequently, enzymatically hydrolyze the pretreated material to fermentable sugars that can then be converted to fuels & chemicals. Pretreatment research is focused on developing processes that would result in reduced capital cost, reduced bioconversion time, lower cellulase enzyme usage, and/or higher ethanol yields. Cellulase research efforts are focused on developing a cost-effective, synergistically acting enzyme mixture that would meet the end user’s needs. Robust fermentation microorganisms are also being developed for conversion of biomass sugars to ethanol and other bio-products. This presentation will provide a perspective on biomass processing by highlighting the key elements required for commercializing lignocellulosic biomass conversion, with particular emphasis on microbial strain engineering for fuels & chemicals production.