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Advanced Manufacturing

Testing Biomass-Derived Lignin as a Carbon Material Replacement

Company Name: Glucan Biorenewables
Program Office: Advanced Manufacturing
Location: St. Louis, MO
Website: http://glucanbio.com
Email: Jeff Fornero, VP Engineering jeff@glucanbio.com
Award Amount: $300,000
Project Term: 12 months
Project Status: Active
Participating Lab(s): Oak Ridge National Laboratory


Successfully replacing petrochemical products and fuels with sustainable sources will require developing novel processes for converting biomass into useful carbon chains. Glucan Biorenewables, a seed-stage company, has developed a high-yield process for converting biomass into solid high-purity cellulose and soluble hemicellulose and lignin using the solvent gamma-valerolactone (GVL) to fractionate biomass. The GVL, in turn, is biomass-derived, non-toxic, and can be recycled.

This project will enable GVL to use Oak Ridge National Laboratory systems to test its lignin — in nature, a structural building block for plants — as a carbon product. Doing so will allow GlucanBio to speed the development of potential commercial applications for its products.


GlucanBio's technology cleanly fractionates, then upgrades the three core components of biomass—cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. Because the process can generate three distinct high revenue streams, its overall yields for biomass are greater than 70 percent, which can enable low-cost production. At the same time, the company‚Äôs technology performs hydrolysis reactions 100 times faster than competing aqueous processes allowing for very mild biomass deconstruction conditions and unique lignin.


Converting biomass to fuel and other products creates new opportunities to make use of agricultural waste and opens up new markets for agricultural products.

Over their full life-cycles, biological based fuels and products can reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to oil-based counterparts.

Diversifying the U.S. fuel supply lowers projected demand for oil and dependence on global oil markets generally.

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