Gradient Elution Moving Boundary Electrophoresis Enables Rapid Analysis of Acids in Complex Biomass-Derived Streams

Eric Karp, Gregg Beckham, Matthew Munson, Claire Nimlos, Marc Salit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus Citations


Biomass conversion processes such as pretreatment, liquefaction, and pyrolysis often produce complex mixtures of intermediates that are a substantial challenge to analyze rapidly and reliably. To characterize these streams more comprehensively and efficiently, new techniques are needed to track species through biomass deconstruction and conversion processes. Here, we present the application of an emerging analytical method, gradient elution moving boundary electrophoresis (GEMBE), to quantify a suite of acids in a complex, biomass-derived streams from alkaline pretreatment of corn stover. GEMBE offers distinct advantages over common chromatography-spectrometry analytical approaches in terms of analysis time, sample preparation requirements, and cost of equipment. As demonstrated here, GEMBE is able to track 17 distinct compounds (oxalate, formate, succinate, malate, acetate, glycolate, protocatechuate, 3-hydroxypropanoate, lactate, glycerate, 2-hydroxybutanoate, 4-hydroxybenzoate, vanillate, p-coumarate, ferulate, sinapate, and acetovanillone). The lower limit of detection was compound dependent and ranged between 0.9 and 3.5 μmol/L. Results from GEMBE were similar to recent results from an orthogonal method based on GC×GC-TOF/MS. Overall, GEMBE offers a rapid, robust approach to analyze complex biomass-derived samples, and given the ease and convenience of deployment, may offer an analytical solution for online tracking of multiple types of biomass streams.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)7175-7185
Number of pages11
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number12
StatePublished - 5 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Chemical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-67693


  • Alkaline pretreatment
  • Analytical chemistry
  • Biomass conversion
  • Biorefinery
  • Lignin


Dive into the research topics of 'Gradient Elution Moving Boundary Electrophoresis Enables Rapid Analysis of Acids in Complex Biomass-Derived Streams'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this