Wednesday, May 2, 2007 - 2:30 PM

Hemicellulosic oligosaccharides: Production processes, properties and applications

Florbela Carvalheiro, Luís C. Duarte, Patrícia Moura, M. Paula Esteves, and Francisco M. Gírio. Departamento de Biotecnologia, INETI, Estrada do Paço do Lumiar, 22, Lisboa, 1649-038, Portugal

Hemicelluloses are a heterogeneous group of polysaccharides, with a large variety of structural types, which are primarily a function of the plant source of the feedstock. This diversity constitutes an opportunity for the production of many chemicals, which has not been yet fully exploited. One of those options is the oligosaccharides.
Because information concerning the recovery of hemicellulosic oligosaccharides is somewhat disperse and sometimes disregarded, the main objective of this paper is to review, compare and discuss the main advantages and bottlenecks of the currently available production processes, identifying the most relevant factors, which influence both product yield and consistency. The purification process options are also described and evaluated. This work also identifies several gaps that currently exist on the properties characterization of hemicellulosic oligosaccharides, and discusses current and future prospects for the application of these compounds to food, feed, pharmaceutical, chemical and biotechnological industries.
As an example, the integration of the production of xylo-oligosaccharides from agro-industrial residues in a biorefinery framework is presented in detail.
It is foreseen that hemicellulosic-oligosaccharides will become a relevant class of specialty chemicals, holding a promise of economic benefit for the biorefineries.