The cell walls of oil palm trunk fibre and empty fruit bunch (EFB) fibre were initially extracted with 5% NaOH at boiling for 2 h, which removed 17.3% and 15.2% hemicelluloses, respectively. Further extraction of the delignified palm trunk and EFB fibre was conducted with 10% NaOH at 20°C for 16 h and 24% KOH-2% H3BO3 at 20°C for 2 h. This resulted in the release of 11.9%, 13.5%, 12.7% and 14.9% residual hemicelluloses, respectively. The cellulose content, isolated by 24% KOH-2% H3BO3 from the two fibre samples, was found to be 41.3-41.7%, most of which was relatively free of associated lignin and hemicelluloses. The hemicelluloses, extracted with 5% NaOH from the lignified palm trunk fibre and EFB fibre, contained relatively high amounts of xylose, and minor arabinose and rhamnose than the hemicelluloses, extracted with 10% NaOH and 24% KOH-2% H3BO3 from the delignified fibres. While the hemicelluloses, extracted with 10% NaOH and 24% KOH-2% H3BO3 from the delignified palm trunk and EFB fibre, contained slightly more galactose, glucose, and mannose than the hemicelluloses, extracted with 5% NaOH from the lignified fibres. Further studies implied that the hemicelluloses, extracted with 5% NaOH from the lignified fibres, were more linear and acidic and had a large molecular size (weight-average, 17,400-22,900), together with comparatively high associated lignins (12.0-15.7%). Which were found to be linked to hemicelluloses mainly via syringyl unit. On the other hand, the hemicelluloses, extracted with 10% NaOH and 24% KOH-2% H3BO3 from the delignified fibres, were more branched but less acidic and had a comparatively small molecular size (weight-average, 6,600-10,800), together with trace amounts of associated lignin (0.3-1.1%). The hemicelluloses in the cell walls of palm EFB had a higher degree of polymerizaton than the hemicelluloses in the cell walls of palm trunk fibre as indicated by the molecular-average weights, ranging from 7,200 to 22,900, and from 6,600 to 17,400, respectively.
Sun, R.C. Extraction and characterization of hemicelluloses and cellulose from oil palm trunk and empty fruit bunch fibres. Journal of Wood Chemistry and Technology (1999) 19 (1) 167-185. [DOI: 10.1080/02773819909349606]