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John (Jack) N. Saddler
Professor of Bioenergy
Faculty of Forestry
University of British Columbia, Canada
What Can Be Done to Increase the Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Biomass
Monday, September 13, 2010
11:00 - 11:30 am

Abstract: In the past we have suggested that substrate factors at the fibre, fibril and microfibril level all influence the effectiveness of enzymatic hydrolysis. More recently we have shown that the nature of the biomass (origin, pre-processing, moisture content, etc) and the pretreatment used (particularly steam and organosolv) also results in various substrate characteristics whose interplay governs the accessibility of cellulases to the substrate. For example, the long fibers of softwoods generally result in larger substrate particles after pretreatment via the organosolv process compared to small particles generated by steam pretreatment of wheat straw fragments, with the likelihood that the greater surface area of the smaller particles would result in more effective hydrolysis. However, it was apparent that particle size, moisture content, etc, were only one aspect that had to be considered and that many other substrate characteristics, such as the varying amounts/types/location of lignin and hemicelluloses and primarily the specific surface area of the cellulose available to the enzymes plays a significant role, indicating that many physicochemical characteristics influence accessibility. Our recent work on organosolv and steam pretreated feedstocks such as corn stover, poplar and lodgepole pine have shown that substrate characteristics such as swelling (which can occur to varying degrees, depending on the substrate and pretreatment method used) can have a tremendous effect on the subsequent ease of enzyme hydrolysis. Methods such as Simons’ staining, fiber quality analysis, pulp viscosity, water retention value and zero span measurements derived from the pulp and paper industry were used to better understand the relative ease or recalcitrance of a given pretreated substrate to enzymatic hydrolysis.
photo of Jack Saddler
Jack Saddler earned a BSc/Ph.D. in Microbiology/Biochemistry from the University of Edinburgh/Glasgow in 1975/78. In 1978 he joined the National Research Council of Canada as a Research Associate, initiating their biomass-to-ethanol program. He joined the newly privatised Canadian Forest Products lab, (now the Forintek division of FPInnovations), in 1982 where he became the manager of the Biotechnology and Chemistry group. In 1981 he was appointed Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Ottawa. In 1989 he was invited to go on Executive Interchange with the Federal Government, assigned to the Science Directorate of the Canadian Forest Service where he had responsibility for Biotechnology and Industry partnerships. In 1990 was awarded the Endowed Chair of Forest Products Biotechnology (An NSERC-Industry Chair) at the University of British Columbia. He served as the Head of the Department of Wood Science (1998-2000) and Dean of the Faculty of Forestry (2000-2010). He currently serves as Task Leader for the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) network on Liquid Biofuels, and has served as a reviewer for many national (EU, US, Asia) programs on biotechnology/bioenergy.

Jack has published more than 300 research papers associated primarily with biotechnology/bioenergy and has been awarded several patents and a variety of awards including the IUFRO Scientific Achievement Award, and the Charles D. Scott award from the Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals Symposium. In 2007, he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. In 2009, he was awarded the Life Sciences BC Leadership Award, given to individuals who demonstrated leadership in the industry, and assisted in the creation and advancement of life sciences companies and/or the broader life sciences community over time.