Application of capillary electrophoretic methods for determining carbohydrates and aliphatic carboxylic acids formed during wood processing: Dissertation

Stella Rovio

Research output: ThesisDissertationCollection of Articles


Knowledge of the behaviour of cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin during wood and pulp processing is essential for understanding and controlling the processes. Determination of monosaccharide composition gives information about the structural polysaccharide composition of wood material and helps when determining the quality of fibrous products. In addition, monitoring of the acidic degradation products gives information of the extent of degradation of lignin and polysaccharides. This work describes two capillary electrophoretic methods developed for the analysis of monosaccharides and for the determination of aliphatic carboxylic acids from alkaline oxidation solutions of lignin and wood. Capillary electrophoresis (CE), in its many variants is an alternative separation technique to chromatographic methods. In capillary zone electrophoresis (CZE) the fused silica capillary is filled with an electrolyte solution. An applied voltage generates a field across the capillary. The movement of the ions under electric field is based on the charge and hydrodynamic radius of ions. Carbohydrates contain hydroxyl groups that are ionised only in strongly alkaline conditions. After ionisation, the structures are suitable for electrophoretic analysis and identification through either indirect UV detection or electrochemical detection. The current work presents a new capillary zone electrophoretic method, relying on in-capillary reaction and direct UV detection at the wavelength of 270 nm. The method has been used for the simultaneous separation of neutral carbohydrates, including mono- and disaccharides and sugar alcohols. The in-capillary reaction produces negatively charged and UV-absorbing compounds. The optimised method was applied to real samples. The methodology is fast since no other sample preparation, except dilution, is required. A new method for aliphatic carboxylic acids in highly alkaline process liquids was developed. The goal was to develop a method for the simultaneous analysis of the dicarboxylic acids, hydroxy acids and volatile acids that are oxidation and degradation products of lignin and wood polysaccharides. The CZE method was applied to three process cases. First, the fate of lignin under alkaline oxidation conditions was monitored by determining the level of carboxylic acids from process solutions. In the second application, the degradation of spruce wood using alkaline and catalysed alkaline oxidation were compared by determining carboxylic acids from the process solutions. In addition, the effectiveness of membrane filtration and preparative liquid chromatography in the enrichment of hydroxy acids from black liquor was evaluated, by analysing the effluents with capillary electrophoresis.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor Degree
Awarding Institution
  • Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology LUT
  • Sirén, Heli, Supervisor, External person
  • Tamminen, Tarja, Supervisor
Award date14 Dec 2012
Place of PublicationEspoo
Print ISBNs978-951-38-7944-0
Electronic ISBNs978-951-38-7945-7
Publication statusPublished - 2012
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • wood
  • capillary electrophoresis
  • carbohydrates
  • carboxylic acids
  • oxygen delignification
  • alkaline oxidation


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