, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 51-62
Date: 01 Nov 2012

Separation of xylose oligomers using centrifugal partition chromatography with a butanol–methanol–water system

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Xylose oligomers are the intermediate products of xylan depolymerization into xylose monomers. An understanding of xylan depolymerization kinetics is important to improve the conversion of xylan into monomeric xylose and to minimize the formation of inhibitory products, thereby reducing ethanol production costs. The study of xylan depolymerization requires copious amount of xylose oligomers, which are expensive if acquired commercially. Our approach consisted of producing in-house oligomer material. To this end, birchwood xylan was used as the starting material and hydrolyzed in hot water at 200 °C for 60 min with a 4 % solids loading. The mixture of xylose oligomers was subsequently fractionated by a centrifugal partition chromatography (CPC) with a solvent system of butanol:methanol:water in a 5:1:4 volumetric ratio. Operating in an ascending mode, the butanol-rich upper phase (the mobile phase) eluted xylose oligomers from the water-rich stationary phase at a 4.89 mL/min flow rate for a total fractionation time of 300 min. The elution of xylose oligomers occurred between 110 and 280 min. The yields and purities of xylobiose (DP 2), xylotriose (DP 3), xylotetraose (DP 4), and xylopentaose (DP 5) were 21, 10, 14, and 15 mg/g xylan and 95, 90, 89, and 68 %, respectively. The purities of xylose oligomers from this solvent system were higher than those reported previously using tetrahydrofuran:dimethyl sulfoxide:water in a 6:1:3 volumetric ratio. Moreover, the butanol-based solvent system improved overall procedures by facilitating the evaporation of the solvents from the CPC fractions, rendering the purification process more efficient.