Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical Engineering (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Chemical Engineering


David R. Shonnard


Hardboard processing wastewater was evaluated as a feedstock in a bio refinery co-located with the hardboard facility for the production of fuel grade ethanol. A thorough characterization was conducted on the wastewater and the composition changes of which during the process in the bio refinery were tracked. It was determined that the wastewater had a low solid content (1.4%), and hemicellulose was the main component in the solid, accounting for up to 70%. Acid pretreatment alone can hydrolyze the majority of the hemicellulose as well as oligomers, and over 50% of the monomer sugars generated were xylose. The percentage of lignin remained in the liquid increased after acid pretreatment. The characterization results showed that hardboard processing wastewater is a feasible feedstock for the production of ethanol. The optimum conditions to hydrolyze hemicellulose into fermentable sugars were evaluated with a two-stage experiment, which includes acid pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis. The experimental data were fitted into second order regression models and Response Surface Methodology (RSM) was employed. The results of the experiment showed that for this type of feedstock enzymatic hydrolysis is not that necessary. In order to reach a comparatively high total sugar concentration (over 45g/l) and low furfural concentration (less than 0.5g/l), the optimum conditions were reached when acid concentration was between 1.41 to 1.81%, and reaction time was 48 to 76 minutes. The two products produced from the bio refinery were compared with traditional products, petroleum gasoline and traditional potassium acetate, in the perspective of sustainability, with greenhouse gas (GHG) emission as an indicator. Three allocation methods, system expansion, mass allocation and market value allocation methods were employed in this assessment. It was determined that the life cycle GHG emissions of ethanol were -27.1, 20.8 and 16 g CO2 eq/MJ, respectively, in the three allocation methods, whereas that of petroleum gasoline is 90 g CO2 eq/MJ. The life cycle GHG emissions of potassium acetate in mass allocation and market value allocation method were 555.7 and 716.0 g CO2 eq/kg, whereas that of traditional potassium acetate is 1020 g CO2/kg.