Analytical data and quantitative near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy models for various lignocellulosic components (including Klason lignin and the constituent sugars glucose, xylose, mannose, arabinose, galactose, and rhamnose), moisture, and ash were obtained for 53 peat samples. These included samples with high, medium, and low degrees of humification. Klason lignin was the main constituent and was greatest in the samples classified as being highly humified, with structural sugars the lowest in this class. The total sugars contents of all samples were considered to be insufficient to allow for their use in biorefining hydrolysis processes for the production of chemicals and biofuels. NIR models were developed for spectral datasets obtained from the samples in their unprocessed (wet), dry and unground, and dry and ground states. Typically the most accurate models were based on the spectra of dry and ground samples. However the NIR models for the wet samples still offered reasonable predictive capabilities. All models were suitable at least for sample screening, with the models for total sugars, glucose, xylose, galactose, and moisture suitable for quantitative analyses.
Miscanthus samples were scanned over the visible and near infrared wavelengths at several stages of processing (wet-chopped, air-dried, dried and ground, and dried and sieved). Models were developed to predict lignocellulosic and elemental constituents based on these spectra. The dry and sieved scans gave the most accurate models; however the wet-chopped models for glucose, xylose, and Klason lignin provided excellent accuracies with root mean square error of predictions of 1.27%, 0.54%, and 0.93%, respectively. These models can be suitable for most applications. The wet models for arabinose, Klason lignin, acid soluble lignin, ash, extractives, rhamnose, acid insoluble residue, and nitrogen tended to have lower R(2) values (0.80+) for the validation sets and the wet models for galactose, mannose, and acid insoluble ash were less accurate, only having value for rough sample screening. This research shows the potential for online analysis at biorefineries for the major lignocellulosic constituents of interest.
The processing of lignocellulosic materials in modern biorefineries will allow for the
production of transport fuels and platform chemicals that could replace petroleum-derived
products. However, there is a critical lack of relevant detailed compositional information
regarding feedstocks relevant to Ireland and Irish conditions. This research has involved the
collection, preparation, and the analysis, with a high level of precision and accuracy, of a
large number of biomass samples from the waste and agricultural sectors. Not all of the
waste materials analysed are considered suitable for biorefining; for example the total sugar
contents of spent mushroom composts are too low. However, the waste paper/cardboard
that is currently exported from Ireland has a chemical composition that could result in high
biorefinery yields and so could make a significant contribution to Irelandís biofuel demands.