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Research article2015Peer reviewedOpen access

Economically Viable Components from Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus L.) in a Biorefinery Concept

Johansson, Eva; Prade, Thomas; Angelidaki, Irini; Svensson, Sven-Erik; Gunnarsson, Ingolfur B.; Persson Hovmalm, Helena; Newson, William Roy


Biorefinery applications are receiving growing interest due to climatic and waste disposal issues and lack of petroleum resources. Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus L.) is suitable for biorefinery applications due to high biomass production and limited cultivation requirements. This paper focuses on the potential of Jerusalem artichoke as a biorefinery crop and the most viable products in such a case. The carbohydrates in the tubers were found to have potential for production of platform chemicals, e.g., succinic acid. However, economic analysis showed that production of platform chemicals as a single product was too expensive to be competitive with petrochemically produced sugars. Therefore, production of several products from the same crop is a must. Additional products are protein based ones from tubers and leaves and biogas from residues, although both are of low value and amount. High bioactive activity was found in the young leaves of the crop, and the sesquiterpene lactones are of specific interest, as other compounds from this group have shown inhibitory effects on several human diseases. Thus, future focus should be on understanding the usefulness of small molecules, to develop methods for their extraction and purification and to further develop sustainable and viable methods for the production of platform chemicals.


biogas; leaves; proteins; sesquiterpene lactones; succinic acid; tubers

Published in

International Journal of Molecular Sciences
2015, Volume: 16, number: 4, pages: 8997-9016 Publisher: MDPI AG