The analysis of native wood components by size-exclusion chromatography (SEC) is challenging. Isolation, derivatization and solubilization of wood polymers is required prior to the analysis. The present approach allowed the determination of molecular weight distributions of the carbohydrates and of lignin in native and processed woods, without preparative component isolation steps. For the first time a component selective SEC analysis of sawdust preparations was made possible by the combination of two selective derivatization methods, namely; ionic liquid assisted benzoylation of the carbohydrate fraction and acetobromination of the lignin in acetic acid media. These were optimized for wood samples. The developed method was thus used to examine changes in softwood samples after degradative mechanical and/or chemical treatments, such as ball milling, steam explosion, green liquor pulping, and chemical oxidation with 2,3-dichloro-5,6-dicyano-1,4-benzoquinone (DDQ). The methodology can also be applied to examine changes in molecular weight and lignin-carbohydrate linkages that occur during wood-based biorefinery operations, such as pretreatments, and enzymatic saccharification.
- Ionic liquid
- Molecular weight distribution
- Size-exclusion chromatography