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Side by Side Comparison of Chemical Compounds Generated by Aqueous Pretreatments of Maize Stover, Miscanthus and Sugarcane Bagasse

Gómez, Leonardo D., Vanholme, Ruben, Bird, Susannah, Goeminne, Geert, Trindade, Luisa M., Polikarpov, Igor, Simister, Rachael, Morreel, Kris, Boerjan, Wout, McQueen-Mason, Simon J.
BioEnergy research 2014 v.7 no.4 pp. 1466-1480
Miscanthus, biofuels, biomass, coproducts, corn stover, feedstocks, lignin, lignocellulose, pentoses, saccharification, sugarcane bagasse
In order to examine the potential for coproduct generation, we have characterised chemical compounds released by a range of alkaline and acidic aqueous pretreatments as well as the effect of these pretreatments on the saccharification ability of the lignocellulosic material. Comparative experiments were performed using three biomass types chosen for their potential as second-generation biofuel feedstocks: maize stover, miscanthus and sugarcane bagasse. The release of lignin from the feedstock correlated with the residual biomass saccharification potential, which was consistently higher after alkaline pretreament for all three feedstock types. Alkaline pretreatment released more complex mixtures of pentose and hexose sugars into the pretreatment liquor than did acid pretreatment. In addition, complex mixtures of aromatic and aliphatic compounds were released into pretreatment liquors under alkaline conditions, in a temperature-dependent manner, but far less so under acidic conditions. We show that the three feedstocks characterised interact with the pretreatment conditions in a specific manner to generate different ranges of products, highlighting the need to tailor pretreatments to both the starting feedstock and desired outcomes.