Willow bark is a rich source of heterogeneous polyphenolic compounds and a potential feedstock for biorefinery processes aiming at chemicals and fiber production. Here, mild hot water treatment of willow hybrid Karin was studied to find a practical means of isolating its non-cell-wall components for their utilization in a willow biorefinery proposed to aid valorization of the willow biomass. A short aqueous treatment of the bark at 80 °C liberated the extract in >20% yield under unpressurized conditions. The extract was characterized using mainly gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and one- and two-dimensional NMR techniques. Authentic analytes were applied to confirm the identification and quantification of the main components that were picein, (+)-catechin, triandrin, glucose, and fructose. Fructose was converted into 5-hydroxymethylfurfural in an acidic treatment which led to its condensation with the phenolic components and formation of a recalcitrant precipitate that should be avoided.
- Willow bark