BioEnergy Research

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 551–561 | Cite as

Recalcitrance Assessment of the Agro-industrial Residues from Five Agave Species: Ionic Liquid Pretreatment, Saccharification and Structural Characterization

  • José A. Pérez-Pimienta
  • Reyna M. Mojica-Álvarez
  • Leticia M. Sánchez-Herrera
  • Ashutosh Mittal
  • Robert W. Sykes


Agave has recently shown its potential as a bioenergy feedstock with promising features such as higher biomass productivity than leading bioenergy feedstock while at the same time being drought-resistant with low water requirements and high sugar to ethanol conversion using ionic liquid (IL) pretreatment. IL pretreatment was studied to develop the first direct side-by-side comparative recalcitrance assessment of the agro-industrial residues from five Agave species [Agave americana (AME), A. angustifolia (ANG), A. fourcroydes (FOU), A. salmiana (SAL), and A. tequilana (TEQ)] using compositional analysis, X-ray diffraction, and the lignin syringyl/guaiacyl subunit ratio (S/G) by pyrolysis molecular beam mass spectrometry (PyMBMS). Prominent calcium oxalate peaks were found only in unpretreated AME, SAL, and TEQ. The S/G ratios of all five unpretreated Agave species were between 1.27 and 1.57 while the IL-pretreated samples were from 1.39 to 1.72. The highest overall sugar production was obtained with IL-pretreated FOU with 492 mg glucose/g biomass and 157 mg xylose/g biomass at 120 °C and 3 h using 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate ([C2C1Im][OAc]). An estimated theoretical ethanol yield from the studied agro-industrial residues from the five Agave species was in the range of 1060 to 5800 L ethanol/ha/year. These comparison results demonstrate the potential of the Agave spp. as a suitable biofuel feedstock which can be employed within a biorefinery scheme.


Agave Biofuels Characterization Crystallinity S/G Saccharification 



The enzymes used were obtained as a gift from Novozymes. We thank Bioagaves de la Costa, Desfibradora de Jalpa, Destilería Leyros, Mezcal Koch, and Hacienda Aké for providing the materials used in the study. This study made use of a 96-well multiplate reactor system for the comparative analysis of lignocellulose recalcitrance via integrated hydrothermal pretreatment and enzymatic saccharification at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Funding Information

The authors thank the Research and Graduate Office of the Universidad Autónoma de Nayarit for partial funding. This work was conducted as part of the BioEnergy Science Center (BESC). The BESC is a US Department of Energy Bioenergy Research Center supported by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research in the DOE Office of Science. This work was supported by the US Department of Energy under contract no. DE-AC36-08-GO28308 with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Supplementary material

12155_2018_9920_MOESM1_ESM.docx (13 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 12 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • José A. Pérez-Pimienta
    • 1
  • Reyna M. Mojica-Álvarez
    • 1
  • Leticia M. Sánchez-Herrera
    • 2
  • Ashutosh Mittal
    • 3
  • Robert W. Sykes
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringUniversidad Autónoma de NayaritTepicMexico
  2. 2.Food Technology UnitUniversidad Autónoma de NayaritTepicMexico
  3. 3.BioSciences CenterNational Renewable Energy LaboratoryGoldenUSA
  4. 4.BioEnergy Science CenterOak Ridge National LaboratoryOak RidgeUSA
  5. 5.National Bioenergy CenterNational Renewable Energy LaboratoryGoldenUSA

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