USA flag logo/image

An Official Website of the United States Government

Cost-Effective Biomass Conversion via an Online Carbohydrate Monitoring Device

Award Information

Department of Agriculture
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2010 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
3185A RAMPART RD Fort Collins, CO 80521-0001
View profile »
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 2010
Title: Cost-Effective Biomass Conversion via an Online Carbohydrate Monitoring Device
Agency: USDA
Contract: N/A
Award Amount: $90,000.00


Biomass is a renewable resource with high potential to achieve cost effective, reliable, and environmentally friendly energy to the American consumer, but yet is still deemed inefficient. First, current methodologies only allow conversion of cellulosic materials into biofuel, leaving energy-rich hemicellulosic material unutilized. Second, even though carbohydrate conversion is the focus of biomass processing, currently there exists no reliable online carbohydrate monitor. As a result, biomass conversion commonly shows 35% relative standard deviation yields batch-to-batch because of variations in raw materials and processing conditions. Here, Advanced MicroLabs (AML) will construct an online carbohydrate proof-of-concept monitoring device, based on a patent-pending microchip capillary electrophoresis coupled with electrochemical detection technology. AML will team with both the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL, Golden, CO) and the Henry Laboratory at Colorado State University. NREL operates a next generation cellulosic/hemicellulosic pilot plant and is eager to find an online monitor that can provide feedback for efficient processing. NREL has identified a sensor that monitors glucose and xylose concentrations during processing as a high priority and will be the focus of this proposal. The Henry Lab authored the provisional patent and recently demonstrated resolution and sensitive detection of both glucose and xylose in model solutions using the technology. In this project, the Henry Lab will develop the conditions necessary to resolve glucose and xylose within real pilot plant samples provided by NREL. We conservatively estimate online monitoring would save the current cellulosic bioethanol industry $55 million/yr. with even greater savings in the future cellulosic/hemicellulosic industry.

Principal Investigator:

Jonathan A. Vickers
Research Scientist

Business Contact:

Philippe Dekleva
Chief Financial Officer
Small Business Information at Submission:

527 MATTHEW ST Fort Collins, CO 80524

EIN/Tax ID: 200286693
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No