Chapter 4Characterization Methods and Techniques

Noppadon Sathitsuksanoh1 and Scott Renneckar2

1University of Louisville, Department of Chemical Engineering, Louisville, KY, USA

2Virginia Tech, Department of Sustainable Biomaterials, Blacksburg, VA, USA

4.1 Philosophy Statement

Humans are entering a new age when we can have significant control over the genomic make-up of plants and organisms that can operate on biomass. Understanding physiochemical characteristics of plant biomass helps us in the upstream and downstream processes. In the upstream process, information of plant biomass' characteristics aids in engineering them to have desirable traits including drought resistance or in planta production of metabolites such as cancer drugs. For downstream process, the characteristic information of plant biomass aids us in designing the pathways to break and transform them into valuable products. Herein, we learn what information these selected characterization methods and techniques for plant biomass provide and how to interpret and use those information.

4.2 Understanding the Characteristics of Biomass

Plants contain stored solar energy in the form of glucose that is transformed into a host of other compounds and materials such as polysaccharides, lipids, and lignins. Glucose is used to power cell metabolism and is the precursor for the structural polymers of the plant wall. The simplicity of the ingredients in photosynthesis of water and carbon dioxide results in the plant ...

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