BioEnergy Research

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 1454–1465

Comparison Study on the Biomass Recalcitrance of Different Tissue Fractions of Sugarcane Culm

  • Michel Brienzo
  • Solange Ferreira
  • Marcos P. Vicentim
  • Wanderley de Souza
  • Celso Sant’Anna


Conversion of sugarcane bagasse to bioethanol is hindered due to intrinsic biomass recalcitrance that is related to its chemical composition and physicochemical properties. Furthermore, biomass heterogeneity interferes with process effectiveness. To compare sugarcane culm recalcitrance epidermis, internode and node fractions were individually investigated by acid pretreatment, enzymatic hydrolysis and thermal analysis/degradation. The epidermis fraction was found to be the largest mass fraction of the sucrose-free sugarcane culm followed by the epidermis-free internode and node fractions, comprising 65, 19 and 15.5 %, respectively. In comparison to the internode and node acid pretreatment solubilized a lower level of xylose from the epidermis resulting in higher mass recovery of water-insoluble solids (WIS) demonstrating its higher resistance to acid pretreatment. Enzymatic digestion showed that the epidermis is least susceptible to hydrolysis followed by the node and internode: 18.6, 56.5 and 75.9 %, respectively. In agreement with the enzymatic hydrolysis yield the internal/external surface area was lower for the epidermis than for the node and internode. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) showed the epidermis exhibited less structural damage after enzymatic hydrolysis. Moreover, the epidermis required a higher start temperature for degradation (330 °C) and exhibited a higher heating value (4,236 cal/g). The internode and node required a degradation start temperature of 288 and 265 °C and had heating values of 4,098.9 and 3,998.76 cal/g, respectively. Taken together the results of this study demonstrate that the epidermis is more resistant to pretreatment, to thermal and enzyme degradation than are the internode and node. The separation of the epidermis from the culm could provide a new perspective on proper use/conversion of the most recalcitrant fraction of the sugarcane. In fact, separation of fractions decreases the biomass heterogeneity with a positive impact on the effectiveness of the conversion process for selecting material more susceptive to pretreatment or optimizing the process for each fraction.


Bioethanol Recalcitrance Digestibility Thermal degradation Culm Epidermis 

Supplementary material

12155_2014_9487_Fig7_ESM.gif (947 kb)
Figure S1

Scanning electron microscopy images of untreated (extractive-free) epidermis, node and internode. (GIF 946 kb)

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High resolution image (TIFF 7120 kb)
12155_2014_9487_Fig8_ESM.gif (894 kb)
Figure S2

Scanning electron microscopy images of acid-pretreated (5 % m/m acid at 121 °C/30 min) epidermis, node and internode. (GIF 893 kb)

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High resolution image (TIFF 7122 kb)
12155_2014_9487_Fig9_ESM.gif (914 kb)
Figure S3

Scanning electron microscopy images of acid-pretreated (10 % m/m acid at 121 °C/30 min) epidermis, node and internode. (GIF 914 kb)

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High resolution image (TIFF 7119 kb)
12155_2014_9487_Fig10_ESM.gif (979 kb)
Figure S4

Scanning electron microscopy images of acid-pretreated (20 % m/m acid at 121 °C/30 min) epidermis, node and internode. (GIF 979 kb)

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High resolution image (TIFF 7119 kb)
12155_2014_9487_Fig11_ESM.gif (976 kb)
Figure S5

Scanning electron microscopy images of solid residue from enzymatic hydrolysis of acid-pretreated (20 % m/m acid at 121 °C/30 min) epidermis, node and internode. (GIF 976 kb)

12155_2014_9487_MOESM5_ESM.tif (12.4 mb)
High resolution image (TIFF 12721 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michel Brienzo
    • 1
  • Solange Ferreira
    • 1
  • Marcos P. Vicentim
    • 2
  • Wanderley de Souza
    • 1
    • 3
  • Celso Sant’Anna
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Structural BiologyMetrology Applied to Science life–National Institute of Metrology, Quality and Technology (Inmetro)Duque de CaxiasBrazil
  2. 2.Laboratory of Organic AnalysisDivision of Chemical Metrology–National Institute of Metrology, Quality and Technology (Inmetro)Duque de CaxiasBrazil
  3. 3.Laboratory of Cell Structure, Institute of Biophysics Carlos Chagas Filho, National Science and Technology Institute in Structural Biology and BioimagingRio de Janeiro Federal UniversityRio de JaneiroBrazil

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