Chemicals from lignocellulosic biomass: A critical comparison between biochemical, microwave and thermochemical conversion methods

Iris K.M. Yu, Huihui Chen, Felix Abeln, Hadiza Auta, Jiajun Fan*, Vitaly L. Budarin, James H. Clark, Sophie Parsons, Christopher J. Chuck, Shicheng Zhang, Gang Luo, Daniel C.W. Tsang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The past decades have seen an increasing interest in developing pathways to produce bio-based chemicals from lignocellulosic biomass and organic waste as renewable resources. Using biomass as a source of chemical building blocks is critical to a future sustainable chemical industry. The successful development of bio-chemicals will also have a profound impact in terms of the innovations of new polymers and materials, new solvents, and new bio-active compounds. This article provides a broad review of conventional thermal heating, microwave processing, and biochemical processing for the production of value-added bio-based chemicals. The potentially important but currently little exploited microwave-assisted processes are given particular attention and the microwave-specific, non-thermal effects are explored. The comparative merits of different approaches are evaluated from the techno-economic and environmental perspectives. The opportunities of integrated biorefineries are articulated, with the aim to actualize carbon-efficient valorization of lignocellulosic biomass and organic waste for synthesizing an array of products. (Figure presented.).

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages55
JournalCritical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology
Early online date2 May 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 May 2020

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  • Bio-based chemicals
  • lignocellulosic biomass
  • sustainable biorefinery

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