Rapid Estimation of Sugar Release from Winter Wheat Straw During Bioethanol Production Using FTIR-Photoacoustic Spectroscopy

Steve Decker, Georgios Bekiaris, Jane Lindedam, Clement Peltre, Geoffrey Turner, Jakob Magid, Sander Bruun

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47 Scopus Citations


Background: Complexity and high cost are the main limitations for high-throughput screening methods for the estimation of the sugar release from plant materials during bioethanol production. In addition, it is important that we improve our understanding of the mechanisms by which different chemical components are affecting the degradability of plant material. In this study, Fourier transform infrared photoacoustic spectroscopy (FTIR-PAS) was combined with advanced chemometrics to develop calibration models predicting the amount of sugars released after pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis of wheat straw during bioethanol production, and the spectra were analysed to identify components associated with recalcitrance. Results: A total of 1122 wheat straw samples from nine different locations in Denmark and one location in the United Kingdom, spanning a large variation in genetic material and environmental conditions during growth, were analysed. The FTIR-PAS spectra of non-pretreated wheat straw were correlated with the measured sugar release, determined by a high-throughput pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis (HTPH) assay. A partial least square regression (PLSR) calibration model predicting the glucose and xylose release was developed. The interpretation of the regression coefficients revealed a positive correlation between the released glucose and xylose with easily hydrolysable compounds, such as amorphous cellulose and hemicellulose. Additionally, a negative correlation with crystalline cellulose and lignin, which inhibits cellulose and hemicellulose hydrolysis, was observed. Conclusions: FTIR-PAS was used as a reliable method for the rapid estimation of sugar release during bioethanol production. The spectra revealed that lignin inhibited the hydrolysis of polysaccharides into monomers, while the crystallinity of cellulose retarded its hydrolysis into glucose. Amorphous cellulose and xylans were found to contribute significantly to the released amounts of glucose and xylose, respectively.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number85
Number of pages12
JournalBiotechnology for Biofuels
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Bekiaris et al.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2700-70389


  • Advanced chemometrics
  • Bioethanol production
  • Enzymatic hydrolysis
  • FTIR-photoacoustic spectroscopy
  • High-throughput assay
  • Prediction
  • Pretreatment
  • Sugar release


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