Development of a sustainable bioeconomy requires valorization of renewable resources, such as wood hemicelluloses. The intra- and inter-molecular association of hemicelluloses within themselves or with other wood components can result in complex macromolecular features. These features exhibit functionality as hydrocolloids, however macromolecular characterization of these heterogeneous materials are challenging using conventional techniques such as size-exclusion chromatography. We studied galactoglucomannans (GGM) -rich softwood extracts at two grades of purity—as crude extract and after ethanol-precipitation. Asymmetrical flow field-flow fractionation (AF4) was optimized and utilized to fractionate size classes in GGM extracts, and subsequent characterization was performed with light scattering and microscopy techniques. Both GGM extracts contained polysaccharides of around 10,000 g/mol molar mass, and colloidal assemblies and/or particles in sub-micron size range. The optimized AF4 method facilitates the characterization of complex biomass-derived carbohydrates without pre-fractionation, and provides valuable understanding of their unique macromolecular features for their future application in food, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics.
- asymmetrical flow field-flow fractionation
- wood hemicelluloses