Biochemical Conversion of Lignocellulosic Biomass to Hydrocarbon Fuels and Products: 2022 State of Technology and Future Research

Ryan Davis, Andrew Bartling

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


The annual State of Technology (SOT) assessment is a key activity for biochemical platform research. It allows the impact of research progress (both directly achieved in-house at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory [NREL] and indirectly extrapolated from available public data) to be quantified in terms of economic improvements in the overall cellulosic biofuel production process for a particular conversion pathway. As such, initial benchmarks can be established for currently demonstrated performance and progress can be tracked toward out-year goals to ultimately demonstrate cost-competitive biofuel technology. Building upon efforts to progress NREL's biochemical platform R&D work toward ultimate 2030 goals to demonstrate less than $2.50/gallon gasoline equivalent (GGE) fuel selling prices, experimental and techno-economic analysis (TEA) activities have primarily focused on "advanced" biochemical processing strategies to fuels and coproducts, guided by TEA modeling to highlight key barriers and priorities toward achieving this goal across a number of potential bioconversion pathways. The purpose of the present effort is to benchmark the latest experimental developments for these pathways as quantified by modeled minimum fuel selling prices (MFSPs), as a measure of current status relative to those final targets. For this SOT, TEA models were run for two separate biological conversion pathways to fuels, based on available data for integrated biomass deconstruction and hydrolysate processing; namely carboxylic acids (primarily butyric acid) and diols (2,3-butanediol [BDO]), reflecting NREL's recently published 2018 biochemical design report focused on those two pathways. The models were run across two scenarios for lignin utilization, namely combustion and conversion to value-added coproducts.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages48
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5100-85469


  • BDO
  • biochemical conversion
  • biorefiinery
  • carboxylic acid
  • lignin valorization
  • state of technology
  • TEA


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