Bio-oil Production from Sweet Sorghum Bagasse Via Liquefaction Using Alkaline Solutions and Identification of Phenolic Products

  • Thabo Z. SehumeEmail author
  • Christien A. Strydom
  • John R. Bunt
  • Harold H. Schobert
Original Paper


The feasibility of converting biomass into bio-oil and the effect of an alkaline treatment during biomass liquefaction was studied. Sweet sorghum bagasse (SSB) was treated with NaOH concentrations of 0.5, 1.0, 3.0 and 6.0 M. The experiments were conducted in a temperature range of 260–320 °C in N2. The results showed that the alkaline treatment affected the product distribution of SSB liquefaction. The highest yield of bio-oil (53.2 wt%) and phenols extracted (≈ 40.0 wt%) were obtained at 320 °C and NaOH aqueous solution of 3.0 M. The ATR-FTIR results indicated the presence of carboxyl, ketone, ester and aromatic ring structures in the bio-oils. The absorption intensities of all the bio-oils at 1100 cm−1 (primary alcohols) substantially decreased with an increase in temperature and NaOH concentration. At given reaction temperature, the use of 3.0 and 6.0 M NaOH resulted in the extraction of more identifiable phenol derivatives than were obtained with the lower concentrations of NaOH. These results suggest that a temperature of 320 °C and a NaOH concentration of 3.0 M yields the best results among the temperatures and concentrations tested, and also that alkaline treatment is feasible for liquefaction and extraction of phenols from the bio-oil.

Graphic Abstract


Liquefaction Sweet sorghum bagasse Bio-oil Phenols Alkaline treatment 



The authors thank Dr. Roelf Venter for GC–MS analysis, and Dr. Nemera Shargie from the Agricultural Research Council, Grain Crops Institute, for the supply of sweet sorghum bagasse. The work presented in this paper is based on research financially supported by the South African Research Chairs Initiative of the Department of Science and Technology and National Research Foundation of South Africa (Coal Research Chair Grant No. 86880, UID115228, Grant No. TP1208137225). Any opinion, finding, conclusion, or recommendation expressed in this material is that of the authors(s), and the NRF does not accept any liability in this regard.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


  1. 1.
    Czernik, S., Bridgewater, A.V.: Overview of applications of biomass fast pyrolysis oil. Energy Fuels 18, 590–598 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Mohan, D., Pittman, C.U., Steele, P.H.: Pyrolysis of wood/biomass for bio-oil: a critical review. Energy Fuels 20, 848–889 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bridgwater, A.V.: Review of fast pyrolysis of biomass and product upgrading. Biomass Bioenergy 38, 68–94 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Kim, T.H.: Pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass. In: Yang, S.T., El-Enhasy, H.A., Thingchul, N., Martin, Y. (eds.) Bioprocessing Technologies in Integrated Biorefinery for Production of Biofuels. Biochemicals, and Biopolymers from Biomass, pp. 91–109. Wiley, New York (2013)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Amen-Chen, C., Pakdel, H., Roy, C.: Production of monomeric phenol by thermodynamical conversion of biomass: a review. Biores. Technol. 79, 227–299 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Chornet, E., Overend, R.P.: Fundamentals of Thermochemical Biomass Conversion. Elsevier, New York (1985)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Demirbas, A.: Current technologies for the thermos-conversion of biomass into fuels and chemicals. Energy Sources 26, 715–730 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Akhtar, J., Amin, N.A.S.: A review on process conditions for optimum bio-oil yield in hydrothermal liquefaction o biomass. Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 15, 1615–1624 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Yan, X., Ma, J., Wang, W., Zhao, Y., Zhou, J.: The effect of different catalysts and process parameters on the chemical content of bio-oils from hydrothermal liquefaction of sugarcane bagasse. BioResources 13, 997–1018 (2018)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Gollakota, A.R.K., Kishore, N.: A review on hydrothermal liquefaction of biomass. Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 81, 1378–1392 (2018)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Liu, Z., Zhang, F.-S.: Effects of various solvents on the liquefaction of biomass to produce fuels and chemicals feedstocks. Energy Convers. Manag. 49, 3498–3504 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Yip, J., Chen, M., Szeto, Y.S., Yan, S.: Comparative study of liquefaction process and liquefied products from bamboo using different organic solvents. Biores. Technol. 100, 6674–6678 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Karagoz, S., Bhaskar, T., Muto, A., Sakata, Y., Oshiki, T., Kishimoto, T.: Low-temperature catalytic hydrothermal treatment of wood biomass: analysis of liquid products. Chem. Eng. J. 108, 127–137 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Karagoz, S., Bhaskar, T., Muto, A., Sakata, Y., Uddin, M.A.: Low-temperature hydro-thermal treatment of biomass: effect of reaction parameters on products and boiling point distributions. Energy Fuels 18, 234–241 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Karagoz, S., Bhaskar, T., Muto, A., Sakata, Y.: Catalytic hydrothermal treatment of pine wood biomass: effect of RbOH and CsOH on product distribution. J. Chem. Technol. Biotechnol. 80, 1097–1102 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Kumar, S. (2010): Hydrothermal treatment for biofuels: lignocellulosic biomass to bioethanol, biocrude, and biochar, Ph.D. Dissertation, Auburn University, Auburn, ALGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ju, Y.-H., Huynh, L.-H., Kasim, N.S., Guo, T.-J., Wang, J.-H., Fazary, A.E.: Analysis of soluble and insoluble fractions of alkali and subcritical water treated sugarcane bagasse. Carbohyd. Polym. 83, 591–599 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Singh, S.P., Chouhan, A.P.: Experimental studies on enhancement of bio-oil production using agro waste materials pre-treated with alkaline solutions. Afr. J. Basic Appl. Sci. 6, 19–24 (2014)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Li, Z., Cao, J., Huang, K., Hong, Y., Li, C., Zhou, X., Xie, N., Lai, F., Shen, F., Chen, C.: Alkaline pretreatment and the synergic effect of water and tetralin enhances the liquefaction efficiency of bagasse. Biores. Technol. 177, 159–168 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Li, X., Ye, J., Chen, J., Yu, J., Ding, M., Hong, J.: Dissolution of wheat straw with aqueous NaOH/urea solution. Fibers Polym. 16, 2368–2374 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Janker-Obermeier, I., Sieber, V., Faulstich, M., Schieder, D.: Solubilization of hemicellulose and lignin from wheat straw through microwave-assisted alkali treatment. Ind. Crop. Prod. 39, 198–203 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Wang, Y.: Cellulose fiber dissolution in sodium hydroxide solution at low temperature: Dissolution kinetics and solubility improvement. Thesis, PhD in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology (2008)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Kim, J.S., Lee, Y.Y., Kim, T.H.: A review on alkaline pretreatment technology for bioconversion of lignocellulosic biomass. Biores. Technol. 199, 42–48 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Fan, L.T., Lee, Y.H., Gharpuray, M.M.: The nature of lignocellulosics and their pretreatments for enzymatic hydrolysis. Adv. Biochem. Eng. 23, 157–187 (1982)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Isogai, A., Atalla, R.H.: Dissolution of cellulose in aqueous NaOH solutions. Cellulose 5, 309–319 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
  27. 27.
    Wright, M., Lima, I., Bigner, R.: Stability and use of sweet sorghum bagasse. Sugar Tech 19, 451–457 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Kiebler, M.W. (1945) The action of solvents on coal. In: Lowry H.H. (ed) Chemistry of Coal Utilization, Chap. 19. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Berkowitz, N.: The Chemistry of Coal, Chap. 6. Elsevier, Amsterdam (1985)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Griffith, J.M., Clifford, C.E.B., Rudnick, L.R., Schobert, H.H.: Solvent extraction of bituminous coals using light cycle oil: characterization of diaromatic products in liquids. Energy Fuels 23, 4553–4561 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    British Stainless Steel Association. Selection of stainless steels for handling sodium hydroxide. Accessed 14 Oct 2019
  32. 32.
    Qu, Y., Wei, X., Zhong, C.: Experimental study on the direct liquefaction of Cunninghamia lanceolata in water. Energy 28, 597–606 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Boocock, D.G.B., Sherman, K.M.: Further aspects of powdered poplar wood liquefaction by aqueous pyrolysis. Can. J. Chem. Eng. 63, 627–633 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Speight, J.G.: Handbook of petroleum product analysis, 2nd edn. Wiley, Hoboken (2015)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Mafu, L.D., Neomagus, H.W.J.P., Everson, R.C., Carrier, M., Strydom, C.A., Bunt, J.R.: Structural and chemical modifications of typical South African biomasses during torrefaction. Bioresour. Technol. 202, 192–197 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Patel, R.N., Bandyopadhyay, S., Ganesh, A.: Extraction of cardinal and phenol from bio-oils obtained through vacuum pyrolysis of biomass using supercritical fluid extraction. Energy 36, 1535–1542 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Li, J., Wang, C., Yang, Z.: Production and separation of phenols from biomass-derived bio-petroleum. J. Anal. Appl. Pyrol. 89, 218–224 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Protić, M., Miltojević, A., Raos, M., Đorđević, A., Golubović, T., Vukadinović, A.: Thermogravimetric analysis of biomass and sub-bituminous coal. VIII International Conference Industrial Engineering and Environmental Protection: (IIZS 2018) October 11–12th. Zrenjanin, Serbia (2018)Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Varma, A.K., Mondal, P.: Physical characterization and pyrolysis kinetic study of sugarcane bafasse using thermogravimetric analysis. J. Energy Resour. Technol. 138, 52205 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Mantilla, S.V., Manrique, A.M., Gauther-Maradei, P.: Methodology for extraction of phenolic compounds of bio-oil from agricultural biomass wastes. Waste Biomass Valoriz. 6, 371–383 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Drummond, A.R.F., Drummond, I.W.: Pyrolysis of sugarcane bagasse in a wire mesh reactor. Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 35, 1263–1268 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Bridgwater, A.V.: Principles and practice of biomass fast pyrolysis process for liquids. J. Anal. Appl. Pyrol. 51, 3–22 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Karagoz, S., Bhaskar, T., Muto, A., Sakata, Y.: Hydrothermal upgrading of biomass: effect of K2CO3 concentration and biomass/water ratio on products distribution. Bioresour. Technol. 97, 90–98 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Zhou, D., Zhang, L., Zhang, S., Fu, H., Chen, J.: Hydrothermal liquefaction of Macroalgae Enteromorpha prolifera to bio-oil. Energy Fuels 24, 4054–4061 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Pidtasang, B., Udomsap, P., Sukkasi, S., Chollacoop, N., Pattiya, A.: Influence of alcohol addition on properties of bio-oil produced from fast pyrolysis of eucalyptus bark in a free-fall reactor. J. Ind. Eng. Chem. 19, 1851–1857 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Lai, Y.Z.: Chemical degradation. In: Hon, D.N.S., Shiraishi, N., (eds.) Wood and Cellulosic Chemistry, Chap. 10. Marcel Dekker Inc, New York (1991)Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Lai, Y.Z., Ontto, D.E.: Effects of alkalinity on endwise depolymerization of hydrocellulose. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 23, 3219–3225 (1979)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Lai, Y.Z.: Kinetic evidence of anionic intermediates in the base-catalyzed cleavage of glycosidic bonds in the methyl D-glucopyranosides. Carbohydr. Res. 24, 57–65 (1972)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Lai, Y.Z., Ontto, D.E.: Kinetics of base-catalyzed degradation of phenyl d-gluco-pyranosides. Carbohydr. Res. 75, 51–59 (1979)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Wang, Y., Wang, H., Lin, H., Zheng, Y., Zhao, J., Pelletier, A., Li, K.: Effects of solvents and catalysts in liquefaction of pinewood sawdust for the production of bio-oils. Biomass Bioenergy 59, 158–167 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Fan, S.P., Zakaria, S., Chia, C.H., Jamaluddin, F., Nabihah, S., Liew, T.K., Pua, F.L.: Comparative studies of products obtained from solvolysis liquefaction of oil palm empty fruit bunch fibres using different solvents. Bioresour. Technol. 102, 3521–3526 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Agrawalla, A., Kumar, S., Singh, R.K.: Pyrolysis of groundnut de-oiled cake and characterization of the liquid product. Bioresour. Technol. 102, 10711–10716 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Bagewadi, Z.K., Mulla, L.S., Ninnekar, H.Z.: Purification and characterisation of endo β-1,4-D-glucanase from Trichoderma harzianum strain HZN11 and its application in production of bioethanol from sweet sorghum bagasse. 3 Biotech 6, 101 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Singh, R., Balagurumurthy, B., Prakash, A., Bhaskar, T.: Catalytic hydrothermal liquefaction of water hyacinth. Bioresour. Technol. 178, 157–165 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Yu, Y., Lou, X., Wu, H.: Some recent advances in hydrolysis of biomass in hot-compressed water and its comparisons with other hydrolysis methods. Energy Fuels 22, 46–60 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Amen-Chen, C., Pakdel, H., Roy, C.: Separation of phenols from Eucalyptus wood tar. Biomass Bioenergy 13, 25–37 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Won, K.W., Prausnitz, J.M.: Distribution of phenolic solutes between water and polar organic solvents. J. Chem. Thermodyn. 7, 661–670 (1975)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Lo, T.C., Baird, M.H., Hanson, C.: Handbook of solvent extraction, Chap. 18.5, 21, 23. Wiley, New York (1983)Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Zilnik, L.F., Jazbinsek, A.: Recovery of renewable phenolic fraction from pyrolysis oil. Sep. Purif. Technol. 86, 157–170 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Newbury, D.E., Ritchie, N.W.M.: Is scanning electron microscopy/energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (SEM/EDS) quantitative? Scanning 35, 141–168 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    Munir, S., Daood, S.S., Nimmo, W., Cunliffe, A.M., Gibbs, B.M.: Thermal analysis and devolatilisation kinetics of cotton stalk, sugarcane bagasse and shea meal under nitrogen and air atmospheres. Biores. Technol. 100, 1413–1418 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. 62.
    Cunha, J.A., Pereira, M.M., Valente, L.M.M., de Piscina, P.R., Homs, N., Santos, M.R.L.: Waste biomass to liquids: low temperature conversion of sugarcane bagasse to bio-oil. The effect of combined hydrolysis treatments. Biomass Bioenergy 35, 2106–2116 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chemical Resource BeneficiationNorth-West UniversityPotchefstroomRSA
  2. 2.Centre of Excellence in Carbon-Based Fuels, Faculty of EngineeringNorth-West University, PotchefstroomPotchefstroomRSA
  3. 3.Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering, & The EMS Energy InstituteThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations