7-15: Characterization of Salicornia bigelovii to evaluate halophyte potential for second generation biofuel production

Monday, April 29, 2013
Exhibit Hall
Iwona Cybulska, Tanmay Chaturvedi and Mette H. Thomsen, Chemical Engineering, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Salicornia bigelovii, a lignocellulosic halophyte native to Middle East, South Asia, South Africa, Europe and North America is being grown by the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), as a part of the Integrated Seawater Agricultural System (ISEAS) in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Characterization of the plants grown at different conditions (soil salinity varying between 10 and 50 ppt and fertilizer grade varying between 1 and 2 gN/m2) was performed by analysis of extractives, carbohydrates, lignin and ash content in the dry S. bigelovii samples. Separation of the seed spikes (pods) from the stems was performed prior to the characterization. The samples analyzed contained 27.85-66.37 g/100gTS (total solids) of total extractives (including extractable ash), 6.58-27.12 g/100gTS of glucan, 5.42-16.60 g/100gTS of lignin and 2.18-9.68 g/100gTS of ash incorporated in the plant matrix. Fraction of the plant (either pods or stems) influenced all the responses significantly (p-value<0.01), fertilizer grade had a significant influence (p-value<0.05) on glucan, ash and extractives content and salinity was a significant factor for ash and extractives content in the plants (p-value<0.05). Preliminary desalination studies showed that up to 91.23% of the ash contained in the raw S. bigelovii can be removed by warm water extraction (washing). The material shows high potential of being a second generation biofuel feedstock based on its composition (high cellulose and lignin content), provided that the original salt content (19.26-52.71 g/100gTS) can be reduced prior to the processing.