Processing Magazine

Auburn University Researchers Make Fuel from Pulp Mill Waste

July 13, 2010
Dr. Harry Cullinan, director of the Alabama Center for Paper and Bioresources Engineering, along with Auburn University professor of chemical engineering Dr. Yoon Y. Lee, senior research fellow Dr. Sung-Hoon Yoon and several graduate students have partnered with Masada Resource Group to produce ethanol from the waste of pulp and paper mills, according to The Birmingham News. Cullinan said the ethanol could be used as another revenue source for the plants. The researchers have developed a way to break down fiber found in wood to make ethanol. According to Cullinan, Auburn’s patent for the technologies to make the ethanol has three components: Extracting the hemicellulose (a fiber found in wood chips) from the wood using a simple hot water method; Combining those sugars with the sugars from the sludge to produce ethanol; And manufacturing the enzyme needed to do the fermentation to convert the hemicellulose into ethanol. Cullinan said that if this technology was adopted in all the paper/pulp mills in the country, it had the potential to produce hundreds of millions of gallons of ethanol.