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Nicole Labbé

Center for Renewable Carbon, UTIA


The natural resistance of plant cell walls to microbial and enzymatic deconstruction, known as biomass recalcitrance, is still not completely understood and is still largely responsible for the high cost of lignocellulose conversion. Several technologies have been developed in the past to allow the conversion process of lignocellulosic materials.  However, research is still needed to answer some of the questions regarding the conversion and to make the process cost-competitive in today’s markets.

Research in Labbé’s lab focuses on the development of new roads to effectively fractionate biomass components (cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin). The products of this research will be unpolluted building blocks that can be converted into fuels, products and chemicals. It will also help to answer some fundamental questions such as how can we reduce the recalcitrance of lignocellulosic biomass, what is the real structure of lignin, how can we extract lignin from plant tissues with minimum degradation with the overall aim of optimizing the utilization of cellulosic and phenolic plant constituents for fuels and chemicals?

Additionally, rapid and inexpensive methods that monitor the chemical composition of biomass samples are key elements to enable the commercialization of lignocellulosic biomass conversion to fuels and chemicals. The chemical composition of biomass feedstock varies as a function of many factors including plant genetics, growth environment, harvesting time, and storage. These needs motivate Labbé’s second research area: the development of high throughput technologies that can be employed at different levels (field, lab, biorefinery) to determine the quality and performance of biomass.

The overall goal of Labbé’s research program will directly help advance the mission and vision of the Center for Renewable Carbon, Agricultural Experiment Station, University of Tennessee.


Kline L.M., D.G. Hayes*, A.R. Womac, and N. Labbé*. Rapid determination of lignin content in hard and soft woods via UV-spectrophotometric analysis of biomass dissolved in ionic liquids. Bioresources. 2010, 5(3), 1366-1383.

Martin M.Z., N. Labbé*, N. André, S.D. Wullschleger, R.H. Harris, M.H. Ebinger. Novel multivariate analysis for soil carbon measurement using Laser-Induced breakdown Spectroscopy. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 2010, 74, 87-93.

Mann D.G.J., N. Labbé*, R.W. Sykes, K. Gracom, L. Kline, I.M. Swamidoss, J.N. Burris, M. Davis, C.N. Stewart Jr. Rapid assessment of lignin content and structure in switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) grown under different environmental conditions. BioEnergy Research. 2009, 2, 243-256.

Lee S.H, H.W. Cho, N. Labbé, M.K. Jeong, T.G. Rials. Quick assessment of thermal decomposition behavior of lignocellulosic biomass by near infrared spectroscopy and its statistical analysis. Journal of Applied Polymer Science. 2009, 114, 3229-3234.

Labbé N., I. M. Swamidoss, N. André, M. Z. Martin, T. M. Young, T. G. Rials. Extraction of information from LIBS spectral data by Multivariate analysis. Applied Optics. 2008, 47, G158-G165.

Labbé N.*, Franklin J., P. Ye, A. Womac, Tyler, D. D., T.G. Rials. Analysis of Switchgrass characteristics using near infrared techniques. Bioresources. 2008, 3, 1329-1348.

Sattler C., Labbé N.*, D. Harper, T. Elder, T. Rials. Effects of hot water extraction on physical and chemical characteristics of oriented strand board (OSB) wood flakes. Clean. 2008, 36, 674-681.

Labbé N.*, S.H. Lee, M.K. Jeong, H.W Cho, N. André. Enhanced discrimination and calibration of biomass using non linear kernel methods. Bioresource Technology. 2008, 99, 8445-8452.

Labbé N.*, N. André, T.G. Rials, S.S Kelley. Two dimensional homo and hetero-correlation technique applied to NIR and py-MBMS spectra of wood. Holzforschung. 2008, 62, 176-182.

Çelen Y., Harper D.P., N. Labbé. A multivariate approach to the acetylated polar wood samples using near infrared spectroscopy. Holzforschung. 2008, 62, 189-196.

Martin M., N. Labbé*, N. André, S. Wullschleger, A. Vass, R. Harris, M. Ebinger. High resolution applications of laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy for environmental and forensic applications. Spectrochimica Acta Part B. 2007, 62, 1426-1432.

Eberhardt T.L., T. Elder, N. Labbé. 2007. Analysis of Ethanol-Soluble Extractives in Southern Pine Wood by Low-Field Proton NMR. Journal of Wood Chemistry and Technology. 2007, 27, 35-47.

Labbé N*, D. Harper, T. Elder, T.G. Rials. 2006. Chemical structure of wood charcoal by infrared spectroscopy and multivariate analysis. Journal of Agricultural and Food Science. 54, 3492-3497.

André N., N. Labbé, T.G. Rials, S.S. Kelley. 2006. Assessment of wood load condition by Near Infrared (NIR) spectroscopy. Journal of Materials Science. 41, 1879-1886.
Labbé N.*, B. De Jéso, J.C. Lartigue, G. Daudé, M. Pétraud, M. Ratier. 2006. Time Domain 1H NMR characterization of liquid phase in green wood. Holzforschung. 60, 265-270.

T. Elder, N. Labbé, D. Harper, T.G. Rials. 2006. Time Domain-Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Study of Chars from Southern Hardwoods. Biomass & Bioenergy. 30, 855-862.

Martin M.Z., N. Labbé*, S.D. Wullschleger, T.G. Rials. 2005. Developing Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy as a high throughput technique for quantifying the elemental composition of preservatives-treated wood. Spectrochimica Acta, part B. 60, 1179-1185.

Labbé N*, T.G. Rials, S.S. Kelley, Z.M. Cheng, J.Y. Kim, Y. Li. 2005. FT-IR Imaging and pyrolysis-molecular beam mass spectroscopy: New tools to investigate wood tissues. Wood Science and Technology. 34, 61-77.

Labbé N*, B. De Jéso, J.C. Lartigue, G. Daudé, M. Pétraud, M. Ratier. 2002. Moisture content and extractive materials in maritime pine wood by low field 1H NMR. Holzforschung. 56, 25-31.

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