Environmental Engineering Reference
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Biofuels from Lignocellulosic Biomass
Xiaorong Wu, James McLaren, Ron Madl, and Donghai Wang
Abstract Biomass feedstock, which is mainly lignocellulose, has considerable
potential to contribute to the future production of biofuels and to the mitigation
of carbon dioxide emissions. Several challenges exist in the production, harvest-
ing, and conversion aspects of lignocellulose, and these must be resolved in order
to reach economic viability. A broad array of research projects are underway to
address the technical hurdles, however, additional research may be required to
reach commercial sustainability. Gasification and enzymatic hydrolysis are the main
technologies being investigated for the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass into
material for the production of biofuels. While each approach has pros and cons,
both are being explored to determine the optimum potential commercial method
for particular feedstock situations, and to better understand the requirements for the
massive scale required to contribute to biofuel volume.
Keywords Lignocellulosic biomass
Enzymatic hydrolysis
1 Introduction
As the world population increases from the current 6.7 billion to over 8 billion by
2030 [1], and supporting economic growth expands, energy consumption is pro-
jected to increase by 42% to 695 quadrillion (10 15 ) British thermal units (Btu, 1
1055 joule) in 2030 [2]. Most of the required energy will still be acquired
from fossil fuels, with around 6% being from nuclear sources and about 8%
from other renewable energy sources. Carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) emission from such
widespread industrial consumption of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) is
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