The aim of the study was to assess the effectiveness of microwave pretreatment combined with acid catalysis in the decomposition of various types of biomass (pine and beech chips and hemp stems). It was clearly demonstrated that sulfuric acid was a catalyst enabling the most effective decomposition of the tested plant biomass, guaranteeing the highest concentrations of simple sugars released. Acid catalysis with 1% v
sulfuric acid combined with microwave radiation provided high glucose concentrations of 89.8 ± 3.4, 170.4 ± 2.4 and 164.6 ± 4.6 mg/g for pine chips, beech chips and hemp stems, respectively. In turn, the use of nitric acid promoted the degradation of hemicellulose, which resulted in high concentrations of galactose and xylose, i.e., 147.6 ± 0.6, 163.6 ± 0.4 and 134.9 ± 0.8 mg/g of pine chips, beech chips and hemp stems, respectively, while glucose levels remained relatively low. It was also demonstrated that the undesirable dehydration of sugars such as glucose and xylose is more pronounced in sulfuric acid than nitric acid processes. The use of H2
and increased pressure generated 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (5-HMF) and furfural at a concentration of ca. 12 and 6 mg/g, 10 and 45 mg/g and 14 and 30 mg/g, of pine chips, beech chips and hemp shoots, respectively. Our studies confirmed the usefulness of the combined use of microwaves and acid catalysis in the degradation of softwood, hardwood and non-wood plant biomass. It should be emphasized that obtaining high concentrations of released simple sugars (as potential substrates in biosynthesis), while maintaining low levels of toxic by-products (inhibitors), requires precise selection of process parameters such as pressure, exposition time and type of acid catalyst.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited