We have investigated the microstructure and bonding of two biomass-based porous carbon chromatographic stationary phase materials (alginic acid-derived Starbon® and calcium alginate-derived mesoporous carbon spheres (AMCS) and a commercial porous graphitic carbon (PGC), using high resolution transmission electron microscopy, electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS), N2 porosimetry and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). The planar carbon sp -content of all three material types is similar to that of traditional nongraphitizing carbon although, both biomass-based carbon types contain a greater percentage of fullerene character (i.e. curved graphene sheets) than a non-graphitizing carbon pyrolyzed at the same temperature. This is thought to arise during the pyrolytic breakdown of hexauronic acid residues into C5 intermediates. Energy dispersive X-ray and XPS analysis reveals a homogeneous distribution of calcium in the AMCS and a calcium catalysis mechanism is discussed. That both Starbon® and AMCS, with high-fullerene character, show chromatographic properties similar to those of a commercial PGC material with extended graphitic stacks, suggests that, for separations at the molecular level, curved fullerene- like and planar graphitic sheets are equivalent in PGC chromatography. In addition, variation in the number of graphitic layers suggests that stack depth has minimal effect on the retention mechanism in PGC chromatography.