Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Analysis, pretreatment and enzymatic saccharification of different fractions of Scots pine

Monica Normark1, Sandra Winestrand1, Torbjörn A Lestander2 and Leif J Jönsson1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Chemistry, Umeå University, Umeå SE-901 87, Sweden

2 Department of Forest Biomaterials and Technology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå SE-901 83, Sweden

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BMC Biotechnology 2014, 14:20  doi:10.1186/1472-6750-14-20

Published: 19 March 2014

Abstract

Background

Forestry residues consisting of softwood are a major lignocellulosic resource for production of liquid biofuels. Scots pine, a commercially important forest tree, was fractionated into seven fractions of chips: juvenile heartwood, mature heartwood, juvenile sapwood, mature sapwood, bark, top parts, and knotwood. The different fractions were characterized analytically with regard to chemical composition and susceptibility to dilute-acid pretreatment and enzymatic saccharification.

Results

All fractions were characterized by a high glucan content (38-43%) and a high content of other carbohydrates (11-14% mannan, 2-4% galactan) that generate easily convertible hexose sugars, and by a low content of inorganic material (0.2-0.9% ash). The lignin content was relatively uniform (27-32%) and the syringyl-guaiacyl ratio of the different fractions were within the range 0.021-0.025. The knotwood had a high content of extractives (9%) compared to the other fractions. The effects of pretreatment and enzymatic saccharification were relatively similar, but without pretreatment the bark fraction was considerably more susceptible to enzymatic saccharification.

Conclusions

Since sawn timber is a main product from softwood species such as Scots pine, it is an important issue whether different parts of the tree are equally suitable for bioconversion processes. The investigation shows that bioconversion of Scots pine is facilitated by that most of the different fractions exhibit relatively similar properties with regard to chemical composition and susceptibility to techniques used for bioconversion of woody biomass.

Keywords:
Scots pine; Chemical composition; Dilute-acid pretreatment; Enzymatic saccharification