Studies into Using Manure in a Biorefinery Concept

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Animal manure is an underutilized biomass resource containing a large amount of organic carbon that is often wasted with the existing manure disposal practices. A research project funded by the US Department of Energy explored the feasibility of using manure via the sugar platform in a biorefinery, converting the carbon from fiber to biochemicals. The results showed that (1) fiber was the major component of manure dry material making up approx 50%, 40%, and 36% of the dry dairy, swine, and poultry manure material, respectively; within dairy manure, more than 56% of the dry matter was in particles larger than 1.680 mm; (2) in addition to being a carbon source, manure could provide a variety of nutrient for fungi T. reesei and A. phoenicis to produce cellulase; (3) the hemicellulose component in the manure fiber could be readily converted to sugar through acid hydrolysis; while concentrated acid decrystallization treatment was most effective in manure cellulose hydrolysis; (4) purification and separation was necessary for further chemical conversion of the manure hydrolysate to polyols through hydrogenation; and (5) the manure utilization strategy studied in this work is currently not profitable.