University of Oulu

Rusanen, A., Lappalainen, K., Kärkkäinen, J. et al. Biomass Conv. Bioref. (2019) 9: 283.

Selective hemicellulose hydrolysis of Scots pine sawdust

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Author: Rusanen, Annu1; Lappalainen, Katja1,2; Kärkkäinen, Johanna1;
Organizations: 1Research Unit of Sustainable Chemistry, University of Oulu
2University of Jyväskylä, Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius
3Chemical Process Engineering Research Unit, University of Oulu
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-01-18


The depletion of fossil resources is driving forward the search for new and alternative renewable feedstocks in the production of renewable chemicals, which could replace the petroleum-based ones. One such feedstock is pine (Pinus sylvestris) sawdust, which is generated enormous amounts in Finnish sawmills yearly. However, prior to the utilization in high-value applications, it needs to be fractionated into its constituents. In this work, the objective was to produce monomeric hemicellulose sugars from pine sawdust without degrading cellulose or lignin simultaneously. The influence of the reaction temperature and time, as well as acid type and concentration, was studied. Based on the results, the temperature was the main distinguishing feature between cellulose and hemicellulose hydrolysis. Promising results were achieved with acid mixtures consisting of 0.5% sulfuric acid and 5.5 or 10% formic acid. At 120 °C with the reaction time of 2 h, the mixtures produced hemicellulose sugars with the yields of 62%. These yields were comparable to the yields achieved in similar conditions with 1.5% sulfuric acid or 40% formic acid. Therefore, by using an acid mixture, the concentration of a single acid could be reduced significantly. The solid fractions remaining after the hydrolysis consisted mainly of cellulose and lignin, which verified the selectivity of the hemicellulose hydrolysis. Also, the fractionation of the remaining solids confirmed that the utilization of all the sawdust components is feasible.

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Series: Biomass conversion and biorefinery
ISSN: 2190-6815
ISSN-E: 2190-6823
ISSN-L: 2190-6815
Volume: 9
Issue: 2
Pages: 283 - 291
DOI: 10.1007/s13399-018-0357-z
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 116 Chemical sciences
215 Chemical engineering
Funding: Open access funding provided by University of Oulu including Oulu University Hospital. The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support from the ERDF project PreBio (decision no. EURA 2014/162/09 02 01 01/2014/PPL), Ruohonjuuri Oy, and foundations of Tauno Tönning, Fortum, as well as Maj and Tor Nessling.
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2018. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.