Novel sustainable solvents for bioprocessing applications
Kassner, Michelle Kimberly
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Bioprocessing applications are gaining importance in the traditional chemical industries. With environmental, political, and economical concerns growing, research efforts have recently focused on the substitution of petroleum-derived transportation fuels and materials. As possible products and feedstocks are being investigated, it is important to ensure the new processes are also sustainable. There are several aspects to developing sustainable processes: minimize waste, use environmentally-benign chemicals, find renewable feedstocks, and limit the number of processing steps. This thesis examines ways to enhance the sustainability of bioprocesses. Novel, alternative solvent systems are studied and applied to a variety of bioprocesses. Downstream processing steps and waste can be minimized by designing systems that combine reactions and separations into one process unit. This is accomplished by designing new reactor systems and by replacing currently used solvents. Additional studies, involving analytical techniques that reduce the use of organic solvents, are tested and applied to industrial problems. Finally, new solvent systems are examined for potential processes using renewable carbohydrate feedstock.