Toward a Zero-Waste Biorefinery: Confocal Microscopy as a Tool for the Analysis of Lignocellulosic Biomass

Yiping Luo, Jiajun Fan, Vitaliy L. Budarin, Changwei Hu*, James H. Clark, Avtar Matharu, Eduardo M.De Melo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lignocellulosic biomass is essentially composed of three components, cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin, with a highly complicated physical structure. The complex network provides significant challenges for the effective analysis of the components in actual biomass while attempted isolation of the individual components usually leads to cross contamination and hence the need to detect the contaminating components. A new method has been developed for the semiquantitative analysis of three main components in important large volume types of lignocellulosic biomass (pubescens, softwood and wheat straw) using confocal microscopy in the absence of stains of other additives. Standard titration and thermogravimetric methods have been used to confirm the confocal microscopy results. This breakthrough opens the door to quick and easy methods for measuring both the ratio of the three major components in biomass and the purity of the isolated components.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13185-13191
Number of pages7
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number10
Early online date22 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 21536007), 111 Project (No. B17030), China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (No. 2018M631102) and the Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst (Innovate UK, BBSRC, EPSRC) to support the translation, development and commercialisation of innovative industrial Biotechnology processes (EP/N013522/1). The authors thank members of the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence for their input and useful discussions. Y. Luo acknowledges support from China Scholarship Council (CSC No. 201506240162). We thank Joanne Marrison from the Department of Biology, University of York toward the confocal analysis.

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright 2018 American Chemical Society.


  • Chemical titration
  • Confocal microscopy
  • Lignocellulosic Biomass
  • Semiquantitative analysis
  • Thermogravimetric
  • Zero-waste biorefinery

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