Optimization of protocols is required for each specific type of biomass processed by electroporation of the cell membrane with high voltage pulsed electric fields (PEF). Such optimization requires convenient and adaptable laboratory systems, which will enable determination of both electrical and mechanical parameters for successful electroporation and fractionation. In this work, we report on a laboratory PEF system consisting of a high voltage generator with a novel asymmetric voltage multiplying architecture and a treatment chamber with sliding electrodes. The system allows applying pulses of up to 4 kV and 1 kA with a pulse duration between 1 μs and 100 μs. The allowable energy dissipated per pulse on electroporated biomass is determined by the conditions for cooling the biomass in the electroporation cell. The device was tested on highly conductive green macroalgae from Ulva sp., a promising but challenging feedstock for the biorefinery. Successful electroporation was confirmed with bioimpedance measurements. Industrial relevance: Seaweed biomass is an emerging feedstock for biorefineries with already 30 million tons per year of global industrial production. However, most of the biomass produced today is lost. Pulsed electric field (PEF) extraction could allow saving energy on biomass drying, deashing and it could allow extracting various organic compounds. However, the parameters needed to seaweed biomass treatment with PEF are not known and will differ from species to species. Furthermore, very high salt content challenges most of the available laboratory PEF devices, limiting the ability for parameters optimization in the lab. The developed laboratory scale PEF system coupled to bioimpedance measurement provides a necessary set of tools and methods for PEF parameters optimization required for process scale-up.
- Biomass processing
- Pulsed electric field generator