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Journal of Analytical Methods in Chemistry
Volume 2016, Article ID 1839598, 10 pages
Research Article

Rapid Quantitative Analysis of Forest Biomass Using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy and Partial Least Squares Regression

1Forest Products Development Center, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University, 520 Devall Drive, Auburn, AL 36849, USA
2Center for Bioenergy and Bioproducts, Department of Biosystems Engineering, Auburn University, 350 Mell Street, Auburn, AL 36849, USA
3Forest Health Dynamics Laboratory, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University, 602 Duncan Drive, Auburn, AL 36849, USA

Received 17 June 2016; Revised 2 September 2016; Accepted 18 September 2016

Academic Editor: Christos Kontoyannis

Copyright © 2016 Gifty E. Acquah et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Fourier transform infrared reflectance (FTIR) spectroscopy has been used to predict properties of forest logging residue, a very heterogeneous feedstock material. Properties studied included the chemical composition, thermal reactivity, and energy content. The ability to rapidly determine these properties is vital in the optimization of conversion technologies for the successful commercialization of biobased products. Partial least squares regression of first derivative treated FTIR spectra had good correlations with the conventionally measured properties. For the chemical composition, constructed models generally did a better job of predicting the extractives and lignin content than the carbohydrates. In predicting the thermochemical properties, models for volatile matter and fixed carbon performed very well (i.e., > 0.80, RPD > 2.0). The effect of reducing the wavenumber range to the fingerprint region for PLS modeling and the relationship between the chemical composition and higher heating value of logging residue were also explored. This study is new and different in that it is the first to use FTIR spectroscopy to quantitatively analyze forest logging residue, an abundant resource that can be used as a feedstock in the emerging low carbon economy. Furthermore, it provides a complete and systematic characterization of this heterogeneous raw material.