Sunday, April 29, 2007

Application of fluorescence spectroscopy for biomass characterization

William F. Bauer and Gracy Elias. Analytical Chemistry and Instrumentation, Idaho National Laboratory, P.O. Box 1625, Idaho Falls, ID 83415-2298

Accurate characterization of biomass feedstocks entering a process to produce biofuels and tracking the progress of that process at various stages is vital to optimizing the bioconversion process for efficiency.  Using near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) alone for biomass characterization and process control appears to miss some vital components that directly affect the bioconversion processes.  Fluorescence spectroscopy  has the potential to be used to add a level of specificity to the NIRS technique or used alone to classify and quantitate certain biomass components, including the phenolic compounds in the biomass cell walls, with somewhat higher sensitivity and selectivity.  Using fluorescence and synchronous fluorescence techniques alone it is possible to distinguish grain varieties as well as straw and corn stover.  Spectra demonstrating the potential applications of fluorescence spectroscopy and synchronous fluorescence to biomass characterization will be shown and discussed.