Research Project Information

Research Project Summary Information

Reactor Design: Hot Water Extraction of Woodchips and Hydrolysis to Produce Biopolymer, Acetic Acid, and Platform Chemical Sugars (ST10233-1)



Wood can be processed, to separate valuable components, into fractionated streams of extractives, hemicellulose, lignin, and cellulose, which can be made into biopolymers, acetic acid, biofuels, biopower feedstock, and other bioproducts. The equipment for extraction and hydrolysis of valuable components from wood needs a better design. Engineering data, including kinetics, performance variation over time, temperature, and other parameters need optimization.

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Project Description

The goal of this academic project was to generate better engineering data that could lead to improved design for autocatalytic and enzymatic extraction and hydrolysis equipment. Objectives included: 1) perform literature review; 2) establish an experimental protocol based on a semi-batch reactor; 3) produce wood extract from sugar maple chips in a pilot scale batch reactor; 4) study kinetics of wood extract hydrolysis at test tube, batch, semi-batch, and pilot scales; 5) characterize chemical compositions of hydrolyzed material; 6) study kinetics of hot water extraction of debarked sugar maple, sugar maple bark, sugar maple chips with bark, and willow chips with bark; 7) characterize chemical compositions of extractants; 8) perform mathematical modeling of extraction and hydrolysis; 9) design hydrolysis unit and extractor based on mathematical model and findings; and, 10) analyze performance and characteristics of the process in order to create a computational tool that can be used to optimize conditions in a biorefinery.


Hot water extraction of valuable components in wood does not reduce the heating value of the post-extracted wood chips, and does not result in corrosive waste streams as acidic processes do. Improved data for hot water extraction is needed before commercialization can occur. Commercialization could benefit a wide variety of biorefinery technologies.

Project Results

Researchers examined the feasibility of extracting hemicellulosic fraction from woodchips, of value, and whether a combined extractor and hydrolysis reactor should be used. This is a key question to be answered for the reactor design. It was concluded that the two processes (extraction and hydrolysis) can be more easily optimized when separated than when combined into one process. Conventional wood pulping digesters can be used as the extraction reactor.


200 Bray Hall, 1 Forestry Dr The Office of Research Program
Syracuse, NY 13210

Principle Investigator

Shijie Liu

Universities Involved

SUNY College of Environmental Science an


Project Type:

Indigenous/Renewable Energy Resources

Technologies Types:

NYSERDA Contact Information

Judy Jarnefeld


R&D - Environment & Energy Res

Contract Details

Start Date: 1/11/2010
Project Status: Active
Contract Number: ST10233-1

Last Updated: 3/2/2011 2