Identification and thermochemical analysis of high-lignin feedstocks for biofuel and biochemical production

Venugopal Mendu, Anne E. Harman-Ware, Mark Crocker, Jungho Jae, Jozsef Stork, Samuel Morton, Andrew Placido, George Huber, Seth Debolt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Background: 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. Results: 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. Conclusions: 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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number43
JournalBiotechnology for Biofuels
StatePublished - 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants (EFRI-0937657) from the National Science Foundation: Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) program (to SD, MC, GH and SM).


  • bio-oil
  • bioenergy
  • biofuels
  • catalytic fast pyrolysis
  • endocarp
  • lignocellulose

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Energy
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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