Special issue on pretreatment and fractionation of biomass for biofuels/biorefining

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Biotechnology for Biofuels is pleased to announce a special issue from the NSERC Bioconversion Network – a collaboration of academic and industry leaders, aimed at developing bio-based chemical and fuel products from forest biomass.

Edited by Jack Saddler and Linoj Kumar, the special issue brings together findings from a recent workshop, focusing on the pretreatment and fractionation of biomass for biofuels and biorefining. In an introductory Editorial, our guest editors provide an interesting report on the workshop, that covered discussion topics from fundamental science to challenges in commercialisation.

A major aim of the network is to exploit the production of high value chemical products, as well as bulk fuels from lignocellulosic biomass, so that bioproducts can more effectively replace all fractions of crude oil. For example, lignin derivatives can be used to replace petroleum-derived polyol in the production of polyeurythane foam. The range of chemicals that can be produced from lignin includes green building materials, resins and nylons, as reviewed by Patanjali Varanasi and colleagues at Berkeley Lab.

Creating diverse carbon compounds from wood is no small chemistry challenge. In a highlight to the series, Leif Jonsson and colleagues explore ways to remove the toxic substances produced during a typical acidic thermochemical pretreatment step, that act to inhibit downsteam enzyme and microbial conversions.

Many thanks to all contributors to this special issue and to the editors, Jack Saddler and Linoj Kumar. Further submissions to the special issue, that are still under consideration, may be added to the homepage as soon as they become ready to publish.