Biorefinery in a pulp mill: use of wood-based hemicelluloses for the production of oligomers for food and health applications

PhD project

Hemicelluloses, along with cellulose and lignins, represent one of the main constituents of wood The goal of our research is the rational approach to the production of bioactive carbon resources from a yet unexploited and abundant industrial waste: hemicelluloses. For this purpose, we will first extract hemicellulose from softwood using autohydrolysis process. The degree of oligomerisation as well as the functional groups of hemicellulose preparation will be characterized. In the next step this preparation will undergo refinement with chosen glycolytic enzymes in order to obtain small oligomers. Resulting hemicellulose fractions will be analyzed for their prebiotic properties, using cell growth analysis of human gut symbionts known to be involved in human health and well-being.


Our project addresses the challenge of producing high-added-value molecules for human health- prebiotics - from non-food vegetal biomass, using green fractionation technologies. This fully complies with the so-called biorefinery concept aiming at preparing new molecules from vegetal biomass. This will be achieved thanks to the development of new techniques and through collaboration between the “Biorefinery: chemistry and eco-processes” team of LGP2, that is specialized in developing environmentally friendly wood fractionation processes, and also in wood components characterization, and the TheREx/TIMC-IMAG laboratory dedicated to the development of new innovative biological therapies.


  • PI: Christine Chirat
  • Co-PI: Bertrand Toussaint
  • PhD: Vivien Deloule


  • LGP2
  • Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Grenoble








  • Deloule, V., Boisset, C., Hannani, D., Suau, A., Le Gouellec, A., Chroboczek, J., … Toussaint, B. (2020). Prebiotic role of softwood hemicellulose in healthy mice model. Journal of Functional Foods, 64, 103688.
  • Deloule, V., Chirat, C., Boisset, C., Toussaint, B., & Chroboczek, J. (2017). Production of hemicellulose oligomers from softwood chips using autohydrolysis followed by an enzymatic post-hydrolysis. Holzforschung, 71(7‑8), 575‑581.


  • Chirat, C., Toussaint, B., Deloule, V., Chroboczek, J., & Boisset-Helbert, C. Prebiotic composition comprising galactoglucomannans. France, Patent WO2019180396 (A1), 26 Sept. 2019.


  • Technology maturation at SATT Linksium: Hemicellprebio (2018)
  • Startup incubation at SATT Linksium: WHN - Wood for Health and Nutrition (2019)


  • Vivien Deloule is now CTO at WHN