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Post–Harvest Physiology and Storage Laboratory

The quality of harvested biomass tends to breakdown, in varying degrees, while being stored or transported to a biorefinery. The mission of the Feedstock Assembly and Preprocessing Facility is to study what structural and chemical properties of the feedstock contribute to this change, to identify what role genomic diversity plays on the biochemical and physical properties of biomass, and to enhance the compositional quality and processing traits of feedstocks, optimizing the results of bio and thermochemical refining. With this knowledge, the effects of various feedstock assembly and storage options (such as wet storage configurations and chemical additives) can be more carefully investigated in the laboratory. The resulting physical impacts on the lignocellulosic biomass also can be more effectively monitored and remediated.

Research Goals

The research goals are to define the physical changes in feedstocks that damage their quality and potential use, and, further, to investigate maintaining, upgrading, or enhancing feedstock shelf life to increase its throughput capacity, operational efficiency, and quality of the interim biomass product. Research regarding lignocellulosic biomass and its dynamic cycles of wet storage continues to be a major focus.

Critical Linkages

The methods and tools developed through research will link feedstock cost, quality, and sustainability metrics of harvesting, preprocessing, bulk handling, and storage systems directly to downstream pretreatment, hydrolysis, and fermentation operations that occur inside a biorefinery.

Laboratory Equipment

Storage related equipment:

  • Two environmental chambers with fully adjustable photoperiod and watering capabilities
  • Two walk-in environmental chambers
  • High-bay laboratory for large experiments
  • Two Instrons for testing densification operations
  • Four controlled temperature incubators
  • Decagon Aqualab Series 3TE water activity meter
  • Forced air and convection drying ovens
  • Wiley minimill and #4 floor model knife mills.

Measuring microbial communities and physiologies:

  • Fully equipped microbiology laboratory
    • Pennwalt Model As-16 industrial centrifuge
    • Sixfors incubators
    • Biolog microbial identification system
    • RhizoPro Particle Size Measurement and Analysis System
    • ABI 3730 DNA analyzer
    • Six PCR units, three with gradient thermocyclers
    • Two Corbett Research Rotor-Gene Real Time PCR units (3000 & 2000), plus one ABI 7900
    • Nanodrop Spectrophotometer.

Measuring the quality effects of storage and other feedstock supply operations on biomass:

  • Chemical Analysis
    • Foss 6500 Near Infrared (NIR)
    • Dionex Accelarated Solvent Extraction system
    • Agilent 6890 GC-MS
    • Agilent XCT Ultrap capillary electrophoresis-mass spectrometry
    • Thermofinnigan Deca XP Plus HPLC-MS
    • Dionex series 4500 ion chromatograph
    • Waters HPLC with 2996 DAD and 2414 RI detectors
    • Agilent 5890 GC-FID
  • Image Clarity
    • Bruker Equimax 55 NIR-FTIR Microscope
    • Topometrix Explorer Atomic Force Microscope
    • Nicon Eclipse 800 Confocal Microscope w/brightfield & DIC optics
    • Phillips environmental scanning electron microscope
    • Scanning electron microscope
    • Transmission electron microscope
    • Three microscopes with high resolution cameras
    • Microtome.

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Department of energy

DOE Office of Nuclear Energy
DOE-Idaho Office