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Evaluating the composition and processing potential of novel sources of Brazilian biomass for sustainable biorenewables production

Lima, Marisa A, Gomez, Leonardo D, Steele-King, Clare G, Simister, Rachael, Bernardinelli, Oigres D, Carvalho, Marcelo A, Rezende, Camila A, Labate, Carlos A, deAzevedo, Eduardo R, McQueen-Mason, Simon J, Polikarpov, Igor
Biotechnology for biofuels 2014 v.7 no.1 pp. 10
Eucalyptus, Panicum maximum, Pennisetum purpureum, Urochloa brizantha, bark, biocompatible materials, biofuels, biomass, biorefining, cellulases, cellulose, chemical composition, clones, energy, ethanol production, feedstocks, grasses, greenhouse gas emissions, harvesting, hemicellulose, hydrolysis, lignin, lignocellulose, nanoparticles, saccharification, sodium hydroxide, sugarcane bagasse, temperature
BACKGROUND: The search for promising and renewable sources of carbohydrates for the production of biofuels and other biorenewables has been stimulated by an increase in global energy demand in the face of growing concern over greenhouse gas emissions and fuel security. In particular, interest has focused on non-food lignocellulosic biomass as a potential source of abundant and sustainable feedstock for biorefineries. Here we investigate the potential of three Brazilian grasses (Panicum maximum, Pennisetum purpureum and Brachiaria brizantha), as well as bark residues from the harvesting of two commercial Eucalyptus clones (E. grandis and E. grandis x urophylla) for biofuel production, and compare these to sugarcane bagasse. The effects of hot water, acid, alkaline and sulfite pretreatments (at increasing temperatures) on the chemical composition, morphology and saccharification yields of these different biomass types were evaluated. RESULTS: The average yield (per hectare), availability and general composition of all five biomasses were compared. Compositional analyses indicate a high level of hemicellulose and lignin removal in all grass varieties (including sugarcane bagasse) after acid and alkaline pretreatment with increasing temperatures, whilst the biomasses pretreated with hot water or sulfite showed little variation from the control. For all biomasses, higher cellulose enrichment resulted from treatment with sodium hydroxide at 130°C. At 180°C, a decrease in cellulose content was observed, which is associated with high amorphous cellulose removal and 5-hydroxymethyl-furaldehyde production. Morphological analysis showed the effects of different pretreatments on the biomass surface, revealing a high production of microfibrillated cellulose on grass surfaces, after treatment with 1% sodium hydroxide at 130°C for 30 minutes. This may explain the higher hydrolysis yields resulting from these pretreatments, since these cellulosic nanoparticles can be easily accessed and cleaved by cellulases. CONCLUSION: Our results show the potential of three Brazilian grasses with high productivity yields as valuable sources of carbohydrates for ethanol production and other biomaterials. Sodium hydroxide at 130°C was found to be the most effective pretreatment for enhanced saccharification yields. It was also efficient in the production of microfibrillated cellulose on grass surfaces, thereby revealing their potential as a source of natural fillers used for bionanocomposites production.