The antioxidant activity of the phenolic compounds present in industrial black liquors obtained from the two cooking processes (kraft and sulphite) used in Portugal to produce Eucalyptus globulus
pulp was evaluated. The black liquors treated at several pH values were extracted with ethyl acetate. Phenolic fractions were further separated by liquid chromatography of the crude extracts of kraft liquor at pH = 6 and sulphite liquor at the original pH. Total phenolic content was determined in terms of gallic acid equivalents (Folin-Ciocalteu colorimetric method), and the antioxidant activity in the crude extracts at several pH values and in the separated fractions was measured using the DPPH test for radical scavenging capacity. The total phenolic content of crude extracts and separated fractions ranged from 92.7 to 181.6 and from 91.6 to 1,099.6 mg GAE/g, respectively, while the antioxidant activity index (AAI) ranged from 2.20 to 3.41 and from 2.21 to 11.47 respectively, showing very strong antioxidant activity in all studied cases. The fractions separated by column chromatography were submitted to mass spectrometry analysis and the results were compared to others in the literature of natural products, mainly from Eucalyptus, and the characteristic bands of functional groups were identified by 1
H-NMR and FTIR. These methods allowed the identification of 17 phenolic compounds.