Biomass conversion: fermentation chemicals and fuels

R W Detroy, G St Julian
Critical Reviews in Microbiology 1983, 10 (3): 203-28
Recent events clearly establish that petroleum can no longer be relied upon as a stable, economical raw material for energy and industrial chemicals. Plant biomass is currently being evaluated as a desirable alternative raw material to petroleum because of renewability and abundance. The most abundant form of biomass on the planet earth is lignocellulose which is composed of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. An estimated 4 X 10(9) tons per year of cellulose alone is readily available for conversion to energy or feedstuffs. This article explores the current state of research on the transformation of cellulose, hemi-cellulose, and lignin by various microorganisms and the subsequent production of fuels and chemicals. Current research activities are covered including technologies available for the utilization of biomass, chemicals from fermentation processes, conversion of biomass to sugar, direct bioconversion to liquid fuels.


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