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Biotechnol Prog. 2000 Jul-Aug;16(4):637-41.

Use of UV absorbance To monitor furans in dilute acid hydrolysates of biomass.

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Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Department of Microbiology and Cell Science, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611, USA.


A simple method based on UV spectra was developed for the estimation of total furans (furfural and hydroxymethylfurfural) in hemicellulose hydrolysates. UV spectra of hemicellulose hydrolysate contained a single dominant peak at around 278 nm. Approximately two-thirds of this peak can be attributed to furan absorbance (furfural and hydroxymethylfurfural). At 284 nm, both furfural and hydroxymethylfurfural have equal absorbance on a weight basis. A comparison of HPLC determinations for different samples of hydrolysate was used to develop a simple equation that allows the accurate prediction of total furans based on the difference in absorbance at 284 and 320 nm. This method may prove useful for quality control applications during the production of biomass syrups using a dilute acid hydrolysis process and during treatments for the amelioration of toxins. Although furans represent only a portion of the toxins present in hemicellulose hydrolysates, the abundance of furans appears to serve as a useful marker to predict relative toxicity.

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