Fractionation and Characterization of Xylan Rich Extracts from Birch
Journal article, 2008

Abstract There is a need for efficient separation processes that provide clean fractions of individual wood polymers. The purpose of this study was to remove lignin from a xylan rich fraction from birch by liquid-liquid extraction. By this means, it was possible to diminish the lignin concentration (12%) of mildly extracted xylans from birch to a total lignin concentration of 3% as determined as a sum of Klason lignin and acid soluble lignin. The molecular weights of the fraction were determined by SEC. The two xylan-rich fractions obtained by the removal of lignin have mol weights (Mw) of 15300 and 27900 Da in comparison to11900 Da for the lignin-rich starting material. NMR and IR analysis revealed that the lignin removed is mostly unbound to the polysaccharides. The lignin was water soluble in the presence of xylan (as part of the xylan-rich fraction), but not in isolated form in water alone. The remaining lignin in the xylan fractions has obviously a closer interaction with the xylan and thereby its separation by liquid-liquid extraction is more difficult. It is also observed with NMR that the extractable lignin is built up mainly of syringyl units, chiefly bonded by β-O-4 linkages.

Lignin- Carbohydrate complexes

Liquid-liquid extraction




Unbounded lignin

Bonded lignin



Peter Westbye

Chalmers, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Polymer Technology

Tobias Köhnke

Chalmers, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Polymer Technology

Paul Gatenholm

Chalmers, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Polymer Technology


Vol. 62 31-37

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