Lignin Plays a Negative Role in the Biochemical Process for Producing Lignocellulosic Biofuels

Yining Zeng, Shuai Zhao, Shihui Yang, Shi You Ding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

370 Scopus Citations

Abstract

A biochemical platform holds the most promising route toward lignocellulosic biofuels, in which polysaccharides are hydrolyzed by cellulase enzymes into simple sugars and fermented to ethanol by microbes. However, these polysaccharides are cross-linked in the plant cell walls with the hydrophobic network of lignin that physically impedes enzymatic deconstruction. A thermochemical pretreatment process is often required to remove or delocalize lignin, which may also generate inhibitors that hamper enzymatic hydrolysis and fermentation. Here we review recent advances in understanding lignin structure in the plant cell walls and the negative roles of lignin in the processes of converting biomass to biofuels. Perspectives and future directions to improve the biomass conversion process are also discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)38-45
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Biotechnology
Volume27
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2014

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2700-60111

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