Biorefining of wheat straw: accounting for the distribution of mineral elements in pretreated biomass by an extended pretreatment – severity equation

Duy Michael Le, Hanne Risbjerg Sørensen, Niels Ole Knudsen, Jan K. Schjoerring, Anne S. Meyer

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Background: Mineral elements present in lignocellulosic biomass feedstocks may accumulate in biorefinery process streams and cause technological problems, or alternatively can be reaped for value addition. A better understanding of the distribution of minerals in biomass in response to pretreatment factors is therefore important in relation to development of new biorefinery processes. The objective of the present study was to examine the levels of mineral elements in pretreated wheat straw in response to systematic variations in the hydrothermal pretreatment parameters (pH, temperature, and treatment time), and to assess whether it is possible to model mineral levels in the pretreated fiber fraction. Results: Principal component analysis of the wheat straw biomass constituents, including mineral elements, showed that the recovered levels of wheat straw constituents after different hydrothermal pretreatments could be divided into two groups: 1) Phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, manganese, zinc, and calcium correlated with xylose and arabinose (that is, hemicellulose), and levels of these constituents present in the fiber fraction after pretreatment varied depending on the pretreatment-severity; and 2) Silicon, iron, copper, aluminum correlated with lignin and cellulose levels, but the levels of these constituents showed no severity-dependent trends. For the first group, an expanded pretreatment-severity equation, containing a specific factor for each constituent, accounting for variability due to pretreatment pH, was developed. Using this equation, the mineral levels could be predicted with R 2 > 0.75; for some with R 2 up to 0.96. Conclusion: Pretreatment conditions, especially pH, significantly influenced the levels of phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, manganese, zinc, and calcium in the resulting fiber fractions. A new expanded pretreatment-severity equation is proposed to model and predict mineral composition in pretreated wheat straw biomass
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiotechnology for Biofuels
Issue number141
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


  • Hydrothermal pretreatment
  • Lignocellulose
  • pH
  • Minerals
  • Severity modeling


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