Bioethanol stillage, the main by-product of industrial bioethanol production, is a potential substrate for fructans. However, the determination and quantification of fructans in such complex sample matrices is still a challenge for the corresponding analytics to be overcome in order to allow for the identification and utilisation of such unused fructan sources. Especially a possible utilisation or rather the corresponding process development requires appropriate analytics first.
Thus, this paper aims to illuminate the basics of fructan quantification in stillage and the corresponding challenges particularly arising with widely used HPLC-RID systems. On this basis, a new approach for fructan quantification is presented based on such HPLC-RID systems allowing for a reliable and especially simple fructan determination in bioethanol stillage for comparably high sample throughput. The developed method performs fructan quantification by determination of fructose and glucose equivalents after a targeted acidic hydrolysis adapted to the respective sample matrix. By means of two different stationary phases, the problem of limited resolution in case of HPLC-RID is overcome and thus measurement errors are reduced. The approach towards the adapted analytical method can be transferred easily to comparable complex sample matrices.