Biomass compositional analysis for energy applications

Methods Mol Biol. 2009;581:145-67. doi: 10.1007/978-1-60761-214-8_11.


In its broadest definition, biomass can be described as all material that was or is a part of a living organism. For renewable energy applications, however, the definition of biomass is usually limited to include only materials that are plant-derived such as agricultural residues (e.g., wheat straw, corn stover) by-products of industrial processes (e.g., sawdust, sugar cane bagasse, pulp residues, distillers grains), or dedicated energy crops (e.g., switchgrass, sorghum, Miscanthus, short-rotation woody crops). This chapter describes analytical methods developed to measure plant components with an emphasis on the measurement of components that are important for biomass conversion. The methods described here can be viewed as a portfolio of analytical methods, with consistent assumptions and compatible sample preparation steps, selected for simplicity, robust application, and the ability to obtain a summative mass closure on most samples that accurately identifies greater than 95% of the mass of a plant biomass sample. The portfolio of methods has been successfully applied to a wide variety of biomass feedstock as well as liquid and solid fractions of both thermochemical pretreatment and enzymatic saccharification (1).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acids / pharmacology
  • Biomass*
  • Carbohydrates / analysis
  • Chemistry Techniques, Analytical
  • Chemistry, Agricultural / methods
  • Energy-Generating Resources*
  • Hydrolysis
  • Industrial Waste / analysis
  • Lignin / analysis
  • Lignin / chemistry
  • Quality Control
  • Solid Phase Extraction / methods
  • Solubility
  • Water / chemistry
  • Water / pharmacology


  • Acids
  • Carbohydrates
  • Industrial Waste
  • Water
  • Lignin