Beyond conventional biomass valorisation: pyrolysis-derived products for biomedical applications

Document Type : Research Paper


1 School of Chemical and Energy Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, 81310 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia.

2 Department of Biosciences, Faculty of Science, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, 81310 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia.

3 Institute of Bioproduct Development, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, 81310 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia.

4 Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, 81310 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia.


Biomass valorisation is conventionally associated with the production of green biofuels. However, this could extend beyond the conventional perception of biomass application into other domains such as medical sciences. Acid condensate (AC) obtained from pyrolysis promises a good potential for biomedical applications, notably for its antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. In this study, concentrated AC extract (CACE) obtained from microwave-assisted pyrolysis of palm kernel shells was fractionated, and the resulting fractions were pooled according to similar thin layer chromatography profiles into combined fractions (CFACs). CFACs were evaluated for total phenolic content, antioxidant level, cytotoxicity, and wound healing activities toward human skin fibroblast cells (HSF 1184). CFAC-3 showed the highest total phenolic content (624.98 ± 8.70 µg GAE/mg of sample) and antioxidant activities (DPPH IC50 of 29.47 ± 0.74 µg/mL, ABTS of 1247.13 ± 27.89 μg TE/mg sample, FRAP of 24.26 ± 0.71 mmol Fe(II)/mg sample, HFRS of 257.74 ± 1.74 µg/mL) compared to CACE (DPPH IC50 of 81.76 ± 2.81 µg/mL, ABTS of 816.95 ± 30.49 μg TE/mg sample, FRAP of 9.22 ± 0.66 mmol Fe(II)/mg sample, HFRS of 689.30 ± 36.00 µg/mL), no cytotoxic properties at ≤50 µg/mL, and significantly faster wound closure (at 1.25 µg/mL) compared to the control 12 h after treatment. The phosphorylation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and protein kinase B (AKT) were upregulated, thus indicating that wound healing of CFAC-3 followed through this signalling pathway. To conclude, phenolic-rich CFAC-3 obtained from the pyrolysis of palm kernel shells demonstrated potential biomedical application as an alternative wound healing agent with high antioxidant and wound-healing activity. To the best of our knowledge, this was the first study to report on the wound healing activity of AC and its wound healing mechanism.

Graphical Abstract

Beyond conventional biomass valorisation: pyrolysis-derived products for biomedical applications


  • Acid condensate obtained by pyrolysis of palm kernel shells showed potential biomedical application.
  • Combined fraction acid condensate 3 (CFAC-3) exhibited high antioxidant activity.
  • CFAC-3 exhibited no cytotoxicity at ≤50 µg/mL and at 1.25 µg/mL showed the fastest wound scratch closure.
  • The mechanism was the upregulation of the phosphorylation of the PI3K/AKT signalling pathway for CFAC-3 1.25 µg/mL.
  • Molecular docking showed a good binding affinity of CFAC-3 compounds towards AKT and ERK2.


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