• Analytes Determined at Celignis
    Formic Acid

Formic acid (methanoic acid) has the formula HCOOH and is the simplest carboxylic acid. It is a co-product in the production of levulinic acid from hexoses and can also be formed from the degradation of other sugars and sugar-degradation products.

Formic acid is used extensively as a decalcifier, as an acidulating agent in textile dying and finishing, and in leather tanning. It is also used in the preparation of organic esters and in the manufacture of drugs, dyes, insecticides, and refrigerants. In industrial production, formic acid is usually produced as a by-product of acetic acid production by liquid phase oxidation of hydrocarbons.


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Analysis Packages for Formic Acid

The Celignis Analysis Package(s) that determine this constituent are listed below:

Equipment Used for Formic Acid Analysis



Ion Chromatography

A Dionex ICS-3000 system that is equipmed with electrochemical, conductivity, and ultraviolet-visible detectors.

Publications on Formic Acid By The Celignis Team

Gottumukkala L.D, Parameswaran B, Valappil S.K, Pandey A (2014) Growth and butanol production by Clostridium sporogenes BE01 in rice straw hydrolysate: kinetics of inhibition by organic acids and the strategies for their removal, Biomass Conversion and Biorefinery 4(3): 277-283

Growth inhibition kinetics of a novel non-acetone forming butanol producer, Clostridium sporogenes BE01, was studied under varying concentrations of acetic and formic acids in rice straw hydrolysate medium. Both the organic acids were considered as inhibitors as they could inhibit the growth of the bacterium, and the inhibition constants were determined to be 1.6 and 0.76 g/L, respectively, for acetic acid and formic acid. Amberlite resins—XAD 4, XAD 7, XAD 16, and an anion exchange resin—Seralite 400 were tested for the efficient removal of these acidic inhibitors along with minimal adsorption of sugars and essential minerals present in the hydrolysate. Seralite 400 was an efficient adsorbent of acids, with minimal affinity towards minerals and sugars. Butanol production was evaluated to emphasize the effect of minerals loss and acids removal by the resins during detoxification.

Hayes, D. J. M. (2013) Report on Optimal Use of DIBANET Feedstocks and Technologies, DIBANET WP5 Report84 pages

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The DIBANET process chain, as a result of its patented pre-treatment stage, has significantly increased the yields of levulinic acid, formic acid, and furfural beyond what was considered to be the state of the art. By fractionating lignocellulosic biomass into its three main polymers (cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin) it has also allowed for lignin to be recovered and sold as a higher-value product. These developments have meant that the amount of acid hydrolysis residues (AHRs) that have been produced are significantly (up to 88%) less than in the Biofine process. These AHRs are required to provide process heat for DIBANET. Direct combustion is the most efficient means for doing this. If such combustion does not occur and the AHRs are instead used in other processes, e.g. pyrolysis and gasification, then more biomass will need to be purchased to fuel the core DIBANET process. The AHRs have not been proven to be superior to virgin biomass when put through these thermochemical processes. Indeed, many of the results from DIBANET Work Package 4 indicate the opposite. Hence, given that DIBANET, and the modelling of its optimal configuration, is designed on the basis of an integrated process, centred on the core element of the acid hydrolysis of biomass, then combustion is the only viable end use for the AHRs. Given that realisation, the focus of this modelling Deliverable is on what the optimal configuration of the process chain would be regarding the three core stages (pretreatment, hydrolysis, and the esterification of levulinic acid with ethanol). It has been demonstrated that a scenario incorporating only the first stage can be profitable in its own right and allow for commercial development at much lower capital costs. In this instance bagasse is a much more attractive feedstock, compared with Miscanthus, due to its higher pentose content.

Integrating the second stage increases capital costs but improves the net present value. The esterification step is somewhat capital intensive but an integrated DIBANET biorefinery that incorporates all three stages can still be highly profitable providing the furfural is sold at its current market price and the lignin is sold rather than used as a fuel for process needs. Indeed, the DIBANET process should not be considered only in the context of biofuels but as a true biorefinery that produces lower value fuels (e.g. ethyl-levulinate) in addition to high value chemicals and bio-products (e.g. furfural and lignin).

The energy and carbon balances of the various DIBANET scenarios have been investigated and are highly positive with values significantly superior to those for the energy-intensive Biofine process. A socioeconomic survey has also been carried out and has shown that there can be a positive effect on employment, both direct and indirect, particularly when Miscanthus is used as the feedstock. The DIBANET integrated process also holds up well when its environmental and social performances are ranked for a range of important parameters.

The development of the core DIBANET IP towards commercial deployment appears to be warranted, based on data provided from the models developed. Indeed, these models present possible scenarios whereby even demonstration-scale DIBANET facilities could operate at significant profits and provide healthy returns on the capital invested.

Gottumukkala, L. D, Valappi, S. K. (2013) Biobutanol production from rice straw by a non acetone producing Clostridium sporogenes BE01, Bioresource Technology 145: 182-187

Biobutanol from lignocellulosic biomass has gained much attention due to several advantages over bioethanol. Though microbial production of butanol through ABE fermentation is an established technology, the use of lignocellulosic biomass as feedstock presents several challenges. In the present study, biobutanol production from enzymatic hydrolysate of acid pretreated rice straw was evaluated using Clostridium sporogenes BE01. This strain gave a butanol yield of 3.43 g/l and a total solvent yield of 5.32 g/l in rice straw hydrolysate supplemented with calcium carbonate and yeast extract. Hydrolysate was analyzed for the level of inhibitors such as acetic acid, formic acid and furfurals which affect the growth of the organism and in turn ABE fermentation. Methods for preconditioning the hydrolysate to remove toxic end products were done so as to improve the fermentation efficiency. Conditions of ABE fermentation were fine tuned resulting in an enhanced biobutanol reaching 5.52 g/l.

Gottumukkala L.D, Parameswaran B, Valappil S.K, Mathiyazhakan, K (2013) Biobutanol production from rice straw by a non acetone producing Clostridium sporogenes BE01, Bioresource technology 145: 182-187

Biobutanol from lignocellulosic biomass has gained much attention due to several advantages over bioethanol. Though microbial production of butanol through ABE fermentation is an established technology, the use of lignocellulosic biomass as feedstock presents several challenges. In the present study, biobutanol production from enzymatic hydrolysate of acid pretreated rice straw was evaluated using Clostridium sporogenes BE01. This strain gave a butanol yield of 3.43 g/l and a total solvent yield of 5.32 g/l in rice straw hydrolysate supplemented with calcium carbonate and yeast extract. Hydrolysate was analyzed for the level of inhibitors such as acetic acid, formic acid and furfurals which affect the growth of the organism and in turn ABE fermentation. Methods for preconditioning the hydrolysate to remove toxic end products were done so as to improve the fermentation efficiency. Conditions of ABE fermentation were fine tuned resulting in an enhanced biobutanol reaching 5.52 g/l.

Additional Material

Click here to learn more about our various methods for analysing sugar degradation products.

We can determine the Formic Acid content of various liquids, including liquids from pre-treatment and hydrolysis processes, click here to learn more about our various methods for analysing process liquids.

We can determine the Formic Acid content of pyrolysis bio-oils, click here to learn more about our various methods for analysing bio-oil.



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