Lignocellulosic biorefineries: The current state of challenges and strategies for efficient commercialization

Zeba Usmani, Minaxi Sharma, Abhishek Kumar Awasthi, Tiit Lukk, Maria G. Tuohy, Liang Gong, Phuong Nguyen-Tri, Alan D. Goddard, Roslyn M. Bill, S. Chandra Nayak, Vijai Kumar Gupta*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lignocellulosic biomass is the most abundant and sustainable feedstock available globally. As a source of the polysaccharides, cellulose and hemicellulose, it can be converted into biofuels and other platform chemicals. This article highlights some important aspects that needs to be focused upon for the commercial development of lignocellulosic biorefineries. Although, lignocellulosic biomass offers clear value in terms of its green advantages and sustainability, there has been very low commercial success at industrial production levels. This can be attributed to a few key factors such as an irregular biomass supply chain, inefficient or complex pre-treatment and saccharification technologies, and scale up challenges leading to high capital and operating expenditures. Moreover, techno-economic studies performed on lignocellulosic biorefineries have revealed that process complexity is the most detrimental factor prohibiting scale-up. Although there have been several research efforts funded both by the public and private sectors, biomass valorization into biofuels and chemicals remains a technical and economical challenge. This review examines the global drivers towards the advancements of lignocellulosic biorefineries, technical and operational challenges for industrialization and future directions towards overcoming them.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111258
JournalRenewable and sustainable energy reviews
Early online date30 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2021, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

Funding: Zeba Usmani and Tiit Lukk would like to acknowledge Tallinn University of Technology, Vijai Kumar Gupta would like to acknowledge Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), UK for research facilities and the support, Liang Gong would like to acknowledge the funding from Youth Innovation Promotion Association, Chinese Academy of Sciences (2018380), and Maria G. Tuohy would like to acknowledge funding from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) through MaREI, the SFI Research Centre for Energy, Climate, and Marine [Grant No: 12/RC/2302_16/SP/3829 ] and NUI Galway for research facilities and support.


  • Biomass valorization
  • Biorefineries
  • Circular bioeconomy
  • Industrialization
  • Lignocellulose
  • Waste to energy


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