The research group „Biorefinery Analytics” is concerned with the chemical characterization of plant biomass, especially in complex mixtures as they are formed in biorefinery approaches. A large number of analytical methods is available in the group, which can cover almost all qualities of organic molecules. The choice of separation and detection method depends on the requirements of the analytical question.
Plant biomass - both in its native form and especially after processing in wood pulping or other biorefinery processes - is a particularly complex mixture of a wide range of compounds with very heterogeneous chemical and physical properties. Therefore, special methods have to be developed for each analytical problem with biorefinery streams. The choices of sample treatment, chromatographic and/or spectroscopic method and data handling have to meet the requirements of the analytical questions and the restrictions imposed by the sample.
When current technologies are insufficient to answer the question, the methodology needs to be developed further. We are focusing in this regard on the highly robust high-performance thin-layer chromatography hyphenated to mass spectrometry (HPTLC-MS) bioactivity screening on HPTLC plates and selective fluorescence labeling. Exemplary sample materials include extracts from leaves and bark, essential oils, mono- and oligosaccharides, non-cellulosic polysaccharides, secondary metabolites of plants and fungi and natural antioxidants. Another focus is set on data treatments for chemometrics and data-mining.