Biomass consists of a number of valuable components, such as sugars, proteins, fats and lignin. Pretreatment allows us to fractionate biomass in a way that makes it easier to carry out subsequent process steps. Pretreatment is an important research topic for Wageningen Food & Biobased Research.

From pretreatment to building blocks

Pretreatment  allows us to hydrolyse biomass with mechanical, thermal and chemical processes. It is often the first step in the biorefining process and lets us carry out subsequent processes such as enzymatic hydrolysis and fermentation faster, more efficiently and at lower cost. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research conducts extensive research into different pre-treatment techniques and applies this in biorefining processes. This allows us to develop biomass building blocks for biobased materials, fuels and chemicals.

Our pretreatment methods

Depending on the desired main product, Wageningen Food & Biobased Research can apply different methods:

  • Mechanical pretreatment
  • Alkaline pretreatment 
  • Acid pretreatment  
  • Pretreatment  with ethanol, acetic acid or other solvents (‘organosolv’) 
  • Combined saccharification and fermentation (SSF)

An example of a successful process is the production of lactic acid from wheat straw by insulating polymeric sugars during pre-treatment. Leveraging on our extensive in-house research capabilities and knowledge, Wageningen Food & Biobased Research can test the effects of various pretreatment methods on your behalf. This will provide you with valuable insight into the sustainable chain from biomass to end product.