Pretreatment of Biomass for Improved Sugar Yield

Executive Summary


Researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) have developed a new pretreatment technology for lignocellulosic biomass that results in increased sugar yields at a reduced cost and increased speed, and generates a separate lignin stream. This larger, faster, and cheaper yield in sugar directly correlates to improved fuel and chemical conversion processing.


Description of Technology


MSU inventors have found a way to improve the pretreatment process that releases sugars from plant material; these sugars are then converted into fuel. Compared to other techniques, pretreatment with our patent-pending process results in increased sugar yields that can be produced more quickly and at a reduced cost. Additionally, a separate lignin stream is generated, which can then be valorized. Under relatively mild alkaline conditions and in the presence of a suitable oxidant, a metal-ligand complex catalyzes the delignification of biomass, significantly improving the digestibility of the sugars.


Key Benefits

  • Increased sugar yield - biomass produces increased fermentable sugars (glucose, xylose)
  • Reduced pretreatment cost - less chemicals and enzymes needed for pretreatment
  • Faster pretreatment process - pretreatment time is shorter with use of a catalyst
  • Separate lignin stream – lignin is suitable for valorization 



  • Biofuels
  • Biomass Power
  • Wood and Pulp


Patent Status: 


Patent application published, publication number 20150352540


Licensing Rights Available


Full licensing rights available


Inventors: Dr. David Hodge, Dr. Eric Hegg, Dr. Namita Bansal, Dr. Vaidyanathan Mathrubootham, Dr. Zhenglun Li, Mr. Charles Chen, Mr. Alexander Toulokhonov


Tech ID: TEC2014-0065


Patent Information:


For Information, Contact:

Thomas Herlache
Assistant Director
Michigan State University