Biomass is a promising alternative and renewable energy source that can be transformed into other value-added products such as activated carbon. In this research, barley husk, corn cob and Agave salmiana leaves were characterized to determine their chemical composition and morphology to evaluate their potentiality as precursors of activated carbons. Based on the main composition results obtained, the biomass samples have suitable chemical and physical characteristics to be considered as good precursors of activated carbons, such as carbon contents greater than 40%, ash content less than 10%, moisture content less than 30%, high volatile contents with values from 75 to 80% and a porous and fibrous morphology. The results indicate that the main compositions in the biomass were cellulose and lignin. The cellulose content was more than lignin (15–26%) for the residues selected. Specifically, a-cellulose contents with values from 52% to 79%, β-cellulose contents of 13–44%, γ-cellulose contents less than 11%, and holocellulose contents of 82–83% were determined. The thermal decomposition for the biomass samples proceeded with five stages attributed to the evaporation of some volatile compounds (70–150 ºC), to the degradation of hemicellulose (180–230 ºC), to the cellulose volatilization (250–350 ºC), to the lignin decomposition (380–550 ºC), and to the degradation of complex polymers and inorganic salts, respectively. The stage corresponding to the cellulose decomposition showed rapid mass decreased in the three residues. This results show that the cellulose and lignin content is another important parameter to evaluate the pyrolysis characteristics of a good precursor of activated carbon.
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