Catalysis Today, Vol.167, No.1, 14-30, 2011
Analysis of the alternative routes in the catalytic transformation of lignocellulosic materials
The large interest on a bio-based economy has stimulated a fast growing R&D on the 2nd generation processes for converting lignocellulosic biomass, but it is still often difficult to have a comprehensive picture of the different possibilities and routes, and especially of the critical factors for selecting one route over the competing ones. This perspective review analyses these aspects, with focus on the identification of the critical elements for the evaluation of the different routes, providing at the same time an update on the main trends and tendencies in R&D in this field. The focus is on the catalytic transformation of lignocellulosic materials. After a short introduction, two main aspects are discussed: (i) the socio-political context and the eco-impact of biofuels, and (ii) how to utilize the biomass in a sustainable perspective. The final part of the review uses the concepts developed in the first part to discuss a new vision for converting lignocellulosic raw materials in an integrated chemo-catalytic biorefinery. Aspects highlighted regards in particular the problem of depolimerization/ hydrolysis of cellulose and the different possibilities to convert the products formed (sugars and furfurals) to biofuels and chemicals. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.