Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Chemical and Paper Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Peter Parker

Second Advisor

Dr. Said Abubakr

Third Advisor

Dr. Andrew Kline

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Anaerobic digestion is one of the several technologies used for biomass conversion to electricity or heat. This thesis focused on microwave irradiation of corn stover as a pretreatment for anaerobic digestion, and studies its impact on methane production.

The first run comprised three sets of stover soaked overnight in water, dilute sulfuric acid and dilute acetic acid, and each treated to three different levels of microwave irradiation. The results indicated a high variability in the data of the water set, which showed that there was no clear impact of microwave pretreatment on methane production. The dilute sulfuric acid and dilute acetic acid sets were declared dead due to lack of any activity.The second run comprised the water set only with stover treated with 0 and 10 minutes of microwave irradiation.

The final average moles of methane produced for 10 minutes treated stover was nearly five times that produced by non-treated corn stover. On combining the data of the two runs, the final moles of methane production increased by 123 %. Economic analysis indicates that the electrical energy cost for the microwave treatment is about$ 60 per incremental 100 cubic foot of methane. This compares to the current selling price of about $0.77 per 100 cubic foot for natural gas (for residential use).