The surface composition and surface properties of water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) root biomass were studied before and after extraction with dilute nitric acid and toluene/ethanol (2/1, v/v) followed by ethanol, using Fourier Transform Infra-red (FT-IR) spectroscopy, thermogravimetric analysis, x-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy. FT-IR absorption bands were obtained at 3421, 2855, 1457 and 1035 cm-1 (O-H stretch, C-H vibration, C-H asymmetric deformation, and C-O stretch, respectively) and 1508, 1541 and 1559 cm-1 (all aromatic skeletal vibrations characteristic of lignin), as well as a C=O carboxylate stretch vibrational band at 1654 cm-1. Scanning electron microscopy confirmed the root biomass to be amorphous and not to have a strongly structured surface. The dilute mineral acid and organic solvent treatment increased crystallinity. Thermogravimetric analysis Studies show that the treated biomass are more thermally stable than the untreated biomass. Data are presented showing that dilute mineral acid and organic solvent treatment resulted in a decrease in the amount of lignin in the biomass. The implications of the decrease in the percentage of lignin on the adsorption of volatile polar organic solvents and non-polar n-alkane hydrocarbons is discussed.
Key words: Water hyacinth, biomass, surface composition, Fourier Transform Infra-red (FT-IR) spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, x-ray diffraction spectroscopy, thermo gravimetric analysis.
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