Effect of Forest Biomass Pretreatment on Essential Oil Yield and Properties
Essential oils (EOs) are natural and economically valuable aromatic compounds obtained from a variety of crops and trees, including forest trees, which have different therapeutic and biological activities. This project aims to assess the impact of different residual forest biomass pretreatments on the yield and the properties of EOs, including their antibacterial and antioxidant characteristics. Forest biomass from black spruce (BS, Picea mariana Mill.), balsam fir (BF, Abies balsamea), and
... balsamea), and jack pine (JP, Pinus banksiana Lamb.) was processed mechanically by (i) shredding, (ii) grinding, (iii) pelletizing, and (iv) bundling. EOs were then extracted by hydro- and steam distillation. The densification into bundles was found to improve EOs yield compared to the other residual forest biomass pretreatments. For example, the yield of bundled BF was improved by 68%, 83%, and 93% compared to shredded, ground, and granulated biomass, respectively. The highest yield was obtained when densification into bundles was combined with extraction through hydrodistillation. As for EOs' chemical composition, JP had the highest polyphenol content and consequently the greatest antioxidant activity. EOs derived from BS inhibited the growth of Gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus bacteria and Gram-negative Salmonella typhimurium and Escherichia coli bacteria. The densification of forest biomass into bundles did not affect the antioxidant capacity or the antibacterial activity of EOs, thereby preserving both properties. Thus, the pretreatment of forest biomass residue could have an impact on the volume and the transport costs and therefore improve the bioproducts market and the bioeconomy in Canada.