A-Z Knowledge on Wood-derived Chemicals

R&D Projects for the Valorization of Wood Cellulose

R&D Projects for the Valorization of Lignin from Wood

R&D Projects for the Valorization of Sugars from Wood

R&D Projects for the Valorization of Extractives from Wood

Wood Chemistry Reinventing Polymers for a Greener Future

Biopolymers Derived from Wood Extractives

Bio-based Polymers Derived from Wood-based Lignin

Bio-based Polymers from Wood Sugars

Bio-based Polymers from Wood Cellulose

Barriers to the Development of Wood Biomass-derived Bio-products

Feedstock Related Barriers

Technology Related Barriers

Technology Related Barriers

The conversion of wood biomass to chemicals is a promising alternative to replace petroleum as a renewable source of carbon. However, most of the proposed processes are still currently unable to compete economically with petroleum refineries due, in part, to the incomplete utilization of the streams (lignin, hemicelluloses, cellulose).

As of a matter of fact, several obstacles must be overcome to make sugars, cellulose, and lignin available.

  • Initially, the cellulose is surrounded by hemicellulose, another polysaccharide, which due to its heterogeneric nature, contains a variety of sugars connected by a variety of glycosidic linkages that cannot be hydrolyzed by the cellulolytic enzymes.

  • Furthermore, these carbohydrates are surrounded by lignin, a polymer of substituted phenylpropane units that acts as a further barrier for the cellulolytic enzymes. The enzymatic hydrolysis step remains one of the main obstacles due to the high prices required to produce enzymatic cocktails needed to cope with the recalcitrance of the biomass to extensive enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulose.

Upscaling of Technology for Developing Wood Biomass-derived Products

Consequently, the ideal wood fractionation technology would consist of a process which makes all components (cellulose, lignin, hemicellulose) available at a high yield. The ideal process would contributing to produce hemimono sugars at high yield without enzymes. The ideal process would allow a low charge of cellulose hydrolysis enzymes and would facilitate a full and simple recovery of spent chemicals.

However, the wood fractionation processes which have been developed still face key challenges to be overcome:

  • The explosion pulping process is energy intensive
  • The alkaline treatment process degrades hemicelluloses
  • The acid treatment process leads to the formation of sticky lignin and requires acid recovery
  • The sulfite process can lead to the oxidation of hemicelluloses and requires sulfur recovery
  • The ORGANOSOLV process needs improvement with respect to the recovery and reuse of the involved solvents in order to allow a better cost reduction and energy balance of the process. More efficient isolation and purification of the various fractions down-stream is also essential

Successful commercialization of wood fractionation technology will greatly depend on the development of a continuous process. Such that, the process is able to efficiently fractionate the lignocellulosic components in rates adequate to meet the needs of the industry. New technologies utilizing the sugar and lignin streams as a feedstock for the production of novel chemicals need to mature in order to provide the economic impetus to the wood biomass-based refinery.

Market Related Barriers

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