ALACEN: A Holistic Herbaceous Biomass Fractionation Process Attaining a Xylose-Rich Stream for Direct Microbial Conversion to Bioplastics

Salvador Bertran Llorens, Wen Zhou, Martin A. Palazzolo, Dana Colpa, Gert Jan Willem Euverink, Janneke Krooneman, Peter Deuss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Lignocellulose biorefining is a promising technologyfor the sustainable production of chemicals and biopolymers.Usually, when one component is focused on, the chemical natureand yield of the others are compromised. Thus, one of thebottlenecks in biomass biorefining is harnessing the maximumvalue from all of the lignocellulosic components. Here, we describea mild stepwise process in a flow-through setup leading to separateflow-out streams containing cinnamic acid derivatives, glucose,xylose, and lignin as the main components from differentherbaceous sources. The proposed process shows that minimaldegradation of the individual components and conservation oftheir natural structure are possible. Under optimized conditions,the following fractions are produced from wheat straw based ontheir respective contents in the feed by the ALkaline ACid ENzyme process: (i) 78% ferulic acid from a mild ALkali step, (ii) 51%monomeric xylose free of fermentation inhibitors by mild ACidic treatment, (iii) 82% glucose from ENzymatic degradation ofcellulose, and (iv) 55% native-like lignin. The benefits of using the flow-through setup are demonstrated. The retention of the ligninaryl ether structure was confirmed by HSQC NMR, and this allowed monomers to form from hydrogenolysis. More importantly, thecrude xylose-rich fraction was shown to be suitable for producing polyhydroxybutyrate bioplastics. The direct use of the xylose-richfraction by means of the thermophilic bacteria Schlegelella thermodepolymerans matched 91% of the PHA produced with commercialpure xylose, achieving 138.6 mgPHA/gxylose. Overall, the ALACEN fractionation method allows for a holistic valorization of theprincipal components of herbaceous biomasses.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 May 2024


  • biorefinery
  • ligocellulosic biomass
  • enzymatic saccharification
  • PHB
  • ferulic acid
  • diluted acid pretreatment


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