Identification and thermochemical analysis of high-lignin feedstocks for biofuel and biochemical production
1 Department of Horticulture, University of Kentucky, 1100 Nicholasville Road, Lexington, KY 40546, USA
2 Center for Applied Energy Research, University of Kentucky, 2540 Research Park Drive, Lexington, KY 40511, USA
3 Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Massachusetts, 686 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA 01003, USA
Biotechnology for Biofuels 2011, 4:43 doi:10.1186/1754-6834-4-43Published: 21 October 2011
Lignin is a highly abundant biopolymer synthesized by plants as a complex component of plant secondary cell walls. Efforts to utilize lignin-based bioproducts are needed.
Herein we identify and characterize the composition and pyrolytic deconstruction characteristics of high-lignin feedstocks. Feedstocks displaying the highest levels of lignin were identified as drupe endocarp biomass arising as agricultural waste from horticultural crops. By performing pyrolysis coupled to gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, we characterized lignin-derived deconstruction products from endocarp biomass and compared these with switchgrass. By comparing individual pyrolytic products, we document higher amounts of acetic acid, 1-hydroxy-2-propanone, acetone and furfural in switchgrass compared to endocarp tissue, which is consistent with high holocellulose relative to lignin. By contrast, greater yields of lignin-based pyrolytic products such as phenol, 2-methoxyphenol, 2-methylphenol, 2-methoxy-4-methylphenol and 4-ethyl-2-methoxyphenol arising from drupe endocarp tissue are documented.
Differences in product yield, thermal decomposition rates and molecular species distribution among the feedstocks illustrate the potential of high-lignin endocarp feedstocks to generate valuable chemicals by thermochemical deconstruction.