Polysaccharide-derived mesoporous materials (Starbon®) for sustainable separation of complex mixtures
The recovery and separation of high value and low volume extractives is a considerable challenge for the commercial realisation of zero-waste biorefineries. Using solid-phase extractions (SPE) based on sustainable sorbents is a promising method to enable efficient, green and selective separation of these complex extractive mixtures. Mesoporous carbonaceous solids derived from renewable polysaccharides are ideal stationary phases due to their tuneable functionality and surface structure. In this study, the structure-separation relationship of thirteen polysaccharide-derived mesoporous materials and two modified types were investigated as sorbents for ten naturally-occurring bioactive phenolic compounds. For the first time, a comprehensive statistical analysis of the key molecular and surface properties influencing the recovery of these species was carried out. The obtained results show the possibility of developing tailored materials for purification, separation or extraction depending on the molecular composition of the analyte. The wide versatility and application span of these polysaccharide-derived mesoporous materials offer new sustainable and inexpensive alternatives to traditional silica-based stationary phases.