Effective Utilisation of Halophyte Biomass from Saline Soils for Biorefinering Processes

Molecules. 2021 Sep 5;26(17):5393. doi: 10.3390/molecules26175393.


The salinity of European soil is increasing every year, causing severe economic damage (estimated 1-3 million hectares in the enlarged EU). This study uses the biomass of halophytes-tall fescue (grass) and hemp of the Białobrzeskie variety from saline soils-for bioenergy, second generation biofuels and designing new materials-fillers for polymer composites. In the bioethanol obtaining process, in the first stage, the grass and hemp biomass were pretreated with 1.5% NaOH. Before and after the treatment, the chemical composition was determined and the FTIR spectra and SEM pictures were taken. Then, the process of simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) was carried out. The concentration of ethanol for both the grass and hemp biomass was approx. 7 g·L-1 (14 g·100 g-1 of raw material). In addition, trials of obtaining green composites with halophyte biomass using polymers (PP) and biopolymers (PLA) as a matrix were performed. The mechanical properties of the composites (tensile and flexural tests) were determined. It was found that the addition of a compatibilizer improved the adhesion at the interface of PP composites with a hemp filler. In conclusion, the grass and hemp biomass were found to be an interesting and promising source to be used for bioethanol and biocomposites production. The use of annually renewable plant biomass from saline soils for biorefinering processes opens up opportunities for the development of a new value chains and new approaches to sustainable agriculture.

Keywords: SSF; biocomposites; bioethanol; biorefinering process; halophyte biomass; pretreatment; saline soils.