Influence of combustion conditions on yields of solvent-extractable anhydrosugars and lignin phenols in chars: Implications for characterizations of biomass combustion residues
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Anhydrosugars, such as levoglucosan and its isomers (mannosan, galactosan), as well as the solvent-extractable lignin phenols (methoxylated phenols) are thermal degradation products of cellulose/hemicellulose and lignin, respectively. These two groups of biomarkers are often used as unique tracers of combusted biomass inputs in diverse environmental media. However, detailed characterization of the relative proportion and signatures of these compounds in highly heterogeneous plant-derived chars are still scarce. Here we conducted a systematic study to investigate the yields of solvent-extractable anhydrosugars and lignin phenols in 25 lab-made chars produced from different plant materials under different combustion conditions. Solvent-extractable anhydrosugars and lignin phenols were only observed in chars formed below 350°C and yields were variable across different combustion temperatures. The yields of mannosan (M) and galactosan (G) decreased more rapidly than those of levoglucosan (L) under increasing combustion severity (temperature and duration), resulting in variable L/M and L/(M+G) ratios, two diagnostic ratios often used for identification of combustion sources (e.g. hardwoods vs. softwoods vs. grasses). Our observations thus may provide an explanation for the wide ranges of values reported in the literature for these two ratios. On the other hand, the results of this study suggest that the ratios of the major solvent-extractable lignin phenols (vanillyls (V), syringyls (S), cinnamyls (C)) provide additional source reconstruction potential despite observed variations with combustion temperature. We thus propose using a property-property plot (L/M vs. S/V) as an improved means for source characterization of biomass combustion residues. The L/M-S/V plot has shown to be effective in environmental samples (soil organic matter, atmospheric aerosols) receiving substantial inputs of biomass combustion residues.
author list (cited authors)
Kuo, L., Louchouarn, P., & Herbert, B. E.