Florence Gschwend

Supervisors: Dr. Jason P. Hallett; Dr. Paul S. Fennell

Funding: Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, Climate-KIC

This project is part of a larger project, aiming to develop a cost-effective biorefinery that uses non-edible biomass as a feedstock for fuels and chemicals. Specifically waste construction wood which is contaminated with a copper containing preservative is being used as an inexpensive raw material.  This preservative prolongs the lifetime of wood by making it non-bio degradable. After its use as construction timber, the wood still contains copper which leaches out into the environment if not contained properly and therefore poses a waste management problem if not treated adequately. During our process, the copper is extracted to a large proportion into the liquid phase during the treatment step and electroplating for subsequent copper recovery is being investigated. Therefore, this process potentially not only decreases process costs by using waste as a feedstock for fuels and chemicals but also solves a waste management problem and increases revenues if the copper can successfully be recovered after treatment.

So far the process has been significantly improved for the treatment of softwoods which are most commonly used in building, resulting in high fermentable sugar yields after short treatments. Furthermore, electrochemical studies have been conducted to proof the concept of copper deposition from the solvent.