Phosphorus is a very important element for several metabolic pathways in all living organisms as exemplified by DNA, RNA, glucose and fructose-P, and adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The whole metabolism of phosphate in any living organism involves the catalysis carried out by many enzymes, such as kinases, pyrophosphorylases, isomerases, and phosphatases. Symptoms of hypophosphatemia include neurological dysfunction and disruption of muscle and blood cells and could be caused by malnutrition, failure to absorb phosphate, and metabolic syndromes. Phosphoric acid is widely used as an acidifying agent in a variety of pharmaceutical formulations as an acidulant, flavor, and synergistic antioxidant and sequestering. At the laboratorial and industrial territories, due to safety precautions, phosphoric acid may be considered a valid acid alternative for stronger and risky acids such as sulfuric, hydrochloric, and nitric acids. Furthermore, phosphoric acid, among the mineral acids, is less corrosive for steel and all goods made therefrom. Taking into account all these favorable arguments, the applied research at our laboratory (LQBB) is focused, with success, in the utilization of much diluted and moderately thermopressurized phosphoric acid (o-PA) in the pretreatment of polysaccharides for many biotechnological, as oligosaccharides production, important prebiotics for the human gastrointestinal tract.
Part of the book: Phosphoric Acid Industry
Phytobiomasses, given the qualitative and quantitative dominance of polysaccharides, are a dominant wealth available in nature. Cellulose and hemicelluloses from softwoods, hardwoods and grasses, starch from tubercles and roots, pectins from fruits and gums from some seeds may be explored as such or following acid or alkaline pretreatments as well enzymatic deconstruction, and even simple chemical derivatization toward more added-value products. A general view in the chemistry of these valuable polymers is here broached, following a sharper focus on acid pretreatments for L(h)C—ligno(hemi)cellulosic materials from sugarcane and other feedstocks. Our particular experience using a gentler proton donor but keeping very advantageous aspects for polysaccharide chemo/biotechnological processing—thermopressurized diluted phosphoric acid (oPA)—is presented with a more detailed description as a result of its validity for the hydrolytic deconstruction of hemicelluloses—heteroxylans and heteromannans, cassava starch, dahlia inulin and mixed glucans from microalgae cell walls. The opportunity of NOs—nutraceutical oligosacchrides—generation from these particular glycopolymers is also shortly commented.
Part of the book: Sugarcane