A variety of potentially inhibitory degradation products are produced during pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass. Qualitative and quantitative interrogation of pretreatment hydrolysates is paramount to identifying potential correlations between pretreatment chemistries and microbial inhibition in downstream bioconversion processes. In the present study, corn stover, poplar, and pine feedstocks were pretreated under eight different chemical conditions, which are representative of leading pretreatment processes. Pretreatment processes included: 0.7% H2SO4, 0.07% H2SO4, liquid hot water, neutral buffer solution, aqueous ammonia, lime, lime with oxygen pressurization, and wet oxidation. Forty lignocellulosic degradation products resulting from pretreatment were analyzed using high performance liquid chromatography in combination with UV spectroscopy or tandem mass spectrometry detection (HPLC-PDA-MS/MS) and ion chromatography (IC). Of these compounds, several have been reported to be inhibitory, including furfural, hydroxymethyl furfural, ferulic acid, 3,4-dihydroxybenzaldehyde, syringic acid among others. Formation and accumulation of monitored compounds in hydrolysates is demonstrated to be a function of both the feedstock and pretreatment conditions utilized. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2010;107: 430–440. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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