About this Research Topic
The standard methods for analyzing biomass and related intermediates and finished products are laborious, potentially toxic, and/or destructive. They may also necessitate a complex data analysis, significantly increasing the experimental time and add unwanted delays in process monitoring, where delays can incur in significant costs. Advances in thermochemical and spectroscopic techniques have enabled the screening of thousands of plants for different phenotypes, such as cell-wall cellulose, non-cellulosic polysaccharide, and lignin composition, lignin monomer composition, or monomeric sugar release. Some instrumental methods have been coupled with multivariate analysis, providing elegant chemometric predictive models enabling the accelerated identification of potential feedstocks. In addition to the use of high-throughput analytical methods for the characterization of feedstocks based on phenotypic metrics, rapid instrumental techniques have been developed for the real-time monitoring of diverse processes, such as the efficacy of a specific pretreatment strategy, or the formation of end products, such as biofuels and biomaterials. Real-time process monitoring techniques are needed for all stages of the feedstocks-to-biofuels conversion process in order to maximize efficiency and lower costs by monitoring and optimizing performance. These approaches allow researchers to adjust experimental conditions during, rather than at the conclusion, of a process, thereby decreasing overhead expenses.
This Frontiers Research Topic will explore options for the modification of biomass composition and the conversion of these feedstocks into to biofuels or biomaterials and the related innovations in methods for the analysis of the composition of plant biomass, and advances in assessing up- and downstream processes in real-time. Finally, a review of the computational models available for techno-economic modeling and lifecycle analysis will be presented.
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