Sunday, September 07, 2014

Steam Explosion Device: The First in the Philippines

Steam Explosion is a technology that is used for treatments involving high pressure and temperature. It is seen as the one with potential to reduce costs and is the most commonly used pretreatment method for celllulosic ethanol production from lignocellulosic feedstocks (McMillan, 1994). It uses both physical and chemical methods to break the structure of lignocellulosic material through a hydrothermal treatment. In the said method, treating the lignocellulosic material with high pressure steam at high temperature for a short time, then rapidly depressurizing destroys the fibrils structure. United States and Canada have already been doing demonstrations on this technology (Jorgensen, et al., 2007).

The FIRST Steam Explosion Device in the Philippines is housed at the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH), University of the Philippines Los Banos. This equipment, which is acquired through the DOST-PCIEERD-funded project on "Fuel Ethanol Production from Lignocellusic Feedstocks" headed by Dr. Fidel Rey P. Nayve, Jr., is being used for the pretreatment of lignocellulosic materials such as agricultural residues, grasses, and forest products.

Steam Explosion Device. 

A portion of my Master's thesis involved the use of this technology and results showed that steam explosion effectively destroyed the lignocellulosic structure of Cogon (substrate used).

The following video shows the operation of BIOTECH's Steam Explosion Device.


JORGENSEN, H., KRISTENSEN, J.B., FELBY, C. 2007. Enzymatic conversion of lignocelluloses into fermentable sugars: challenges and opportunities. Society of Chemical Industry.

MCMILLAN, J.D. 1994. Pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass. In: Himmel, M.E., Baker, J.O.,     Overend, R.P. (Eds.), Enzymatic Conversion of Biomass for Fuels Production, ACS Symposium Series, vol. 566. ACS, Washington, DC

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