Subcritical water was employed to fractionate woody biomass into carbohydrates and lignin. Nine urban trees species (hardwood and softwood) from Spain were studied. The experiments were carried out in a semi-continuous reactor at 250 °C for 64 min. The hemicellulose and cellulose recovery yields were between 30% wt. and 80% wt. while the lignin content in the solid product ranged between 32% wt. and 92% wt. It was observed that an increment of solubilized lignin disfavored the hydrolysis of hemicelluloses. It was determined that the maximum extraction of hemicellulose was achieved at 20 min of solid reaction time while the extraction of celluloses not exhibited a maximum value. The hydrolysis of hemicellulose and cellulose would be governed by the hydrolysis kinetic and the polymers accessibility. In addition, the extraction of hemicellulose was negatively affected by the lignin content in the raw material while cellulose hydrolysis was not affected by this parameter.
FEDER and Spanish Economy and Competitiveness Ministry (former Science and Innovation Ministry) Project Reference: CTQ2011-27347, ENE2012-33613 (FracBioFuel), CTQ2013-44143-R and Junta de Castilla y León Project Reference: VA254B11-2 for funding