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Compositional Analysis of Biomass Reference Materials: Results from an Interlaboratory Study



David W. Templeton, Edward J. Wolfrum, Katherine E. Sharpless, James H. Yen


Biomass analysis methods are used to compare compositions of different lignocellulosic feedstocks, to measure component balance around unit operations, and to determine yields through biomass to biofuels processes. Four biomass reference materials (RMs) were prepared in the early 1990s for use in evaluating analytical methods for the determination of summative composition of lignocellulosic materials comprising herbaceous biomass, hardwood, softwood, and agricultural residues. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) RM 8491 Sugarcane Bagasse (Saccharum spp. Hybrid), RM 8492 Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deltoides), RM 8493 Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata), and RM 8494 Wheat Straw (Triticum aestivum var. Thunderbird) were originally characterized in an interlaboratory comparison exercise coordinated by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The expiration date for these materials was reached in June 2010, and an effort to recharacterize the material was initiated by NREL and NIST. Compositional analysis data from this updated interlaboratory study will be used to provide the new reference values on the biomass components of the four biomass RMs. To recharacterize these biomass materials, we sent samples of the four biomass RMs to 11 academic, industrial, and government laboratories for compositional analysis. The labs analyzed the RMs according to their normal methods. We received as many as 14 data points from the labs. We report the median values and the expanded uncertainty values for these four RMs on a dry mass, whole biomass basis. Total component closures seen here ranged from mass fractions of 99.4% ± 1.5% to 104.4% ± 1.8% which suggests most components were measured and little double counting occurred.
BioEnergy Research


biomass, reference material, RM, sugarcane, bagasse, straw, pine, cottonwood


Templeton, D. , Wolfrum, E. , Sharpless, K. and Yen, J. (2015), Compositional Analysis of Biomass Reference Materials: Results from an Interlaboratory Study, BioEnergy Research, [online],, (Accessed June 25, 2024)


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Created October 28, 2015, Updated October 12, 2021