Biomass has the potential to replace conventional fuels in a number of applications, particularly in biofuel production. It is an abundantly available renewable material with great potential as a feedstock for bioconversion processes for the production of energy, fuels and a variety of chemicals. Due to its biogenic origin, the carbon dioxide released from its combustion process does not impact atmospheric carbon dioxide. Despite these merits, a major problem hindering its widespread use has always been its recalcitrant nature, in terms of its inherent characteristics, which are unfavorable to its use in bioconversion and bio refinery processes. This makes it necessary for biomass to be pretreated before use in any conversion process for maximum product recovery. However, a major issue with regards to biomass pretreatment is the lack of rapid, high throughput and reliable tools for assessing and tracing biopolymer components of biomass relevant to the energy production potential of the biomass. This chapter therefore presents an overview of the pretreatment and characterization of biomass relevant to energy, fuels and chemicals production. The information provided will bequeath readers with the basic knowledge necessary for finding an auspicious solution to pretreatment problems and the production of energy from pretreated biomass.
Part of the book: Biotechnological Applications of Biomass