Compositional Analysis of Lignocellulosic Feedstocks 1: Review and Description of Methods

Justin B. Sluiter, Raymond O. Ruiz, Christopher J. Scarlata, Amie D. Sluiter, David W. Templeton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

801 Scopus Citations


As interest in lignocellulosic biomass feedstocks for conversion into transportation fuels grows, the summative compositional analysis of biomass, or plant-derived material, becomes ever more important. The sulfuric acid hydrolysis of biomass has been used to measure lignin and structural carbohydrate content for more than 100 years. Researchers have applied these methods to measure the lignin and structural carbohydrate contents of woody materials, estimate the nutritional value of animal feed, analyze the dietary fiber content of human food, compare potential biofuels feedstocks, and measure the efficiency of biomass-to-biofuels processes. The purpose of this paper is to review the history and lineage of biomass compositional analysis methods based on a sulfuric acid hydrolysis. These methods have become the de facto procedure for biomass compositional analysis. The paper traces changes to the biomass compositional analysis methods through time to the biomass methods currently used at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The current suite of laboratory analytical procedures (LAPs) offered by NREL is described, including an overview of the procedures and methodologies and some common pitfalls. Suggestions are made for continuing improvement to the suite of analyses.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)9043-9053
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number16
StatePublished - 2010

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-510-46878


  • 72% sulfuric acid hydrolysis
  • Biofuels
  • Cellulose
  • Hemicellulose
  • Klason lignin
  • Laboratory analytical procedure
  • LAP
  • Lignocellulose
  • NREL
  • Summative compositional biomass analysis


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