Wheat straw is an easily affordable, cost-effective and natural source of antioxidants and cellulose, but its full potential is not yet utilized. In the present investigation, an auto-hydrolytic process was applied to recover both antioxidant phenolic compounds and cellulose from wheat straw. Two three-step acid/alkaline fractionation processes were applied differing for the first step: a conventional mild acid hydrolysis or an auto-hydrolysis. The liquors from the first step were analyzed for the recovery of antioxidants, while the final residues from the whole process were analyzed for cellulose yield and purity. The auto-hydrolysis process led to a higher yield in antioxidants but also in sugars (glucose and xylose) and sugar degradation products (5-HMF, 5-MF, furfural) than the acid hydrolysis process. The overall cellulose recovery (about 45% g/100 gcellulose wheat straw dm) and purity was comparable in the two processes; therefore, the auto-hydrolysis-based process could be recommended as a potentially more environmentally friendly process to recover antioxidants and cellulose from wheat straw for different applications. Finally, a first study on the optimization of hydrolysis step was provided from the point of view of improving the cellulose yield, monitoring the sugars release during both the acid hydrolysis and the auto-hydrolysis process.
- phenolic compounds
- wheat straw