Biochemical processing

Enzymes and microbes can convert woody biomass into ethanol and other liquid biofuels and chemicals, but first, cellulose has to be extracted from the biomass. Scion has developed physical pre-treatments that help breakdown softwoods. Read about our recent work.

Biochemical processes can then convert the cellulose into simple, fermentable sugars (saccharification). We are also developing methods to convert hemicellulose into simple sugars. Lignin, the co-product of the saccharification process, can be converted into high value chemicals.

This work is supported by Scion’s wood fibre processing and pulping and industrial fermentation capabilities.

The Stump to Pump programme 2013 - 2014

This programme, co-funded by MPI, Norske Skög and Z Energy, assessed the potential for creating biofuels from woody biomass. Scion was sub-contracted to provide research and technology expertise for the Stump to Pump feasibility assessment.

The study

  • Found that it was technically feasible to convert radiata pine residues to liquid biofuel feedstocks suitable for the New Zealand market
  • Confirmed the availability and quality of woody biomass in New Zealand suitable for use in the production of biofuels
  • However, the global economic and energy outlook at the time made the commercial viability of Stump to Pump marginal and the risk too high

Read more about the Stump to Pump programme [MPI]


Dr Paul Bennett, Portfolio Leader, Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering