Thermochemical Conversion and Valorization of Woody Lignocellulosic Biomass in Hydrothermal Media

  • V. Chitra DeviEmail author
  • S. Mothil
  • R. Sathish Raam
  • K. Senthilkumar
Part of the Energy, Environment, and Sustainability book series (ENENSU)


Biomass conversion can provide the sustainable and promising alternative solution for the future energy demands and fuel supply. It can also be a major contributor to the chemical demand by acting as primary source for biofuel and value added chemicals. Thermochemical conversion can be a faster solution for this problem. Lignocellulosic biomass is the more preferred to other biomasses as it has uniform composition and well established models for degradation of its constituents such as Cellulose, Hemicellulose and Lignin. This process of thermochemical conversion of biomass is usually performed in the presence of hydrothermal media like water or acetone at high temperature and high pressure. The woody lignocellulosic biomass has a complex sterochemical structure compared to agricultural residues and energy crops. It is depolymerised into small compounds in sub critical and supercritical conditions to form three distinct phases such as: bio-oil, bio-gas and bio-carbon, which has their own significant role in the biorefinery. Based on the process conditions (temperature, pressure, media) the yield of the phases varies accordingly. According to the physicochemical properties of media, the process can be classified as hydrothermal carbonization, hydrothermal liquefaction and hydrothermal gasification. For the past two decades, significant researches is being reported for thermochemical conversion of various lignocellulosic biomass (hardwood/softwood), agricultural residues, fruit shells, cellulose wastes, industrial co-products, etc. in both wet and dry conditions. Also it was found that the wet biomass conversion results in high yield of various chemicals like alkanes, alkenes ketones, aldehydes, acids, alcohols, phenols, esters, ethers and other aromatic compounds with some amount of polymeric impurities. In this chapter more emphasis is given on the thermochemical conversion of woody biomass, its pre-treatment, hydro processing and refining of the products synthesised. It also focuses on the valorization of the end products obtained from the hydrothermal processing into value added chemicals in the presence of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts.


Thermochemical conversion Valorization Lignocellulosic woody biomass Value added chemicals 


  1. Alauddin ZABZ, Lahijani P, Mohammadi M, Mohamed AR (2010) Gasification of lignocellulosic biomass in fluidized beds for renewable energy development: a review. Renew Sustain Energy Rev 14(9):2852–2862CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alper K, Tekin K, Karagoz S (2019) Hydrothermal liquefaction of lignocellulosic biomass using potassium fluoride doped alumina. Energy FuelsGoogle Scholar
  3. Amutio M, Lopez G, Aguado R, Bilbao J, Olazar M (2012) Biomass oxidative flash pyrolysis: autothermal operation, yields and product properties. Energy Fuels 26(2):1353–1362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baccile N, Laurent G, Babonneau F, Fayon F, Titirici MM, Antonietti M (2009) Structural characterization of hydrothermal carbon spheres by advanced solid-state MAS 13C NMR investigations. J Phys Chem C 113(22):9644–9654CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bajpai P (2016) Structure of lignocellulosic biomass. Pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass for biofuel production. Springer, Singapore, pp 7–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Balat M (2006) Biomass energy and biochemical conversion processing for fuels and chemicals. Energy Sources Part A 28(6):517–525CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baumgardner ME, Vaughn TL, Lakshminarayanan A, Olsen D, Ratcliff MA, McCormick RL, Marchese AJ (2015) Combustion of lignocellulosic biomass based oxygenated components in a compression ignition engine. Energy Fuels 29(11):7317–7326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bobleter O (1994) Hydrothermal degradation of polymers derived from plants. Polym Sci 19:797–841Google Scholar
  9. Brown S, Iverson LR, Prasad A, Liu D (1993) Geographical distributions of carbon in biomass and soils of tropical Asian forests. Geocarto international 8(4):45–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Çağlar A, Demirbaş A (2001) Conversion of cotton cocoon shell to liquid products by supercritical fluid extraction and low pressure pyrolysis in the presence of alkalis. Energy Convers Manage 42(9):1095–1104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cheng S, D’cruz I, Wang M, Leitch M, Xu C (2010) Highly efficient liquefaction of woody biomass in hot-compressed alcohol − water co-solvents. Energy Fuels 24(9):4659–4667Google Scholar
  12. Chuntanapum A, Yong TLK, Miyake S, Matsumura Y (2008) Behavior of 5-HMF in subcritical and supercritical water. Ind Eng Chem Res 47(9):2956–2962CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. de Caprariis B, Bavasso I, Bracciale MP, Damizia M, De Filippis P, Scarsella M (2019) Enhanced bio-crude yield and quality by reductive hydrothermal liquefaction of oak wood biomass: effect of iron addition. J Anal Appl PyrolysisGoogle Scholar
  14. Delmer DP, Amor Y (1995) Cellulose biosynthesis. Plant Cell 7(7):987Google Scholar
  15. Demirbas A (2000) Recent advances in biomass conversion technologies. Energy Edu Sci Technol 6:19–41Google Scholar
  16. Demirbaş A (2001) Biomass resource facilities and biomass conversion processing for fuels and chemicals. Energy Convers Manag 42(11):1357–1378CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Demirbas A, Arin G (2002) An overview of biomass pyrolysis. Energy Sources 24(5):471–482CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Demirbas MF, Balat M, Balat H (2009) Potential contribution of biomass to the sustainable energy development. Energy Convers Manage 50(7):1746–1760CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dimitriadis A, Bezergianni S (2017) Hydrothermal liquefaction of various biomass and waste feedstocks for biocrude production: a state of the art review. Renew Sustain Energy Rev 68:113–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Grilc M, Likozar B, Levec J (2016) Simultaneous liquefaction and hydrodeoxygenation of lignocellulosic biomass over NiMo/Al2O3, Pd/Al2O3, and zeolite Y catalysts in hydrogen donor solvents. ChemCatChem 8(1):180–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Haarlemmer G, Guizani C, Anouti S, Déniel M, Roubaud A, Valin S (2016) Analysis and comparison of bio-oils obtained by hydrothermal liquefaction and fast pyrolysis of beech wood. Fuel 174:180–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hao N, Alper K, Tekin K, Karagoz S, Ragauskas AJ (2019) One-pot transformation of lignocellulosic biomass into crude bio-oil with metal chlorides via hydrothermal and supercritical ethanol processing. Bioresour Technol 121500Google Scholar
  23. Haripriya GS (2000) Estimates of biomass in Indian forests. Biomass Bioenerg 19(4):245–258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jenkins B, Baxter LL, Miles TR Jr, Miles TR (1998) Combustion properties of biomass. Fuel Process Technol 54(1–3):17–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kanetake T, Sasaki M, Goto M (2007) Decomposition of a lignin model compound under hydrothermal conditions. Chem Eng Technol Ind Chem-Plant Equip-Process Eng-Biotechnol 30(8):1113–1122Google Scholar
  26. Karagöz S, Bhaskar T, Muto A, Sakata Y (2005) Comparative studies of oil compositions produced from sawdust, rice husk, lignin and cellulose by hydrothermal treatment. Fuel 84(7–8):875–884CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Karagöz S, Bhaskar T, Muto A, Sakata Y (2006) Hydrothermal upgrading of biomass: effect of K2CO3 concentration and biomass/water ratio on products distribution. Biores Technol 97(1):90–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Khampuang K, Boreriboon N, Prasassarakich P (2015) Alkali catalyzed liquefaction of corncob in supercritical ethanol–water. Biomass Bioenerg 83:460–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Koppejan J, Van Loo S (2012) The handbook of biomass combustion and co-firing. Routledge, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kruse A, Funke A, Titirici MM (2013) Hydrothermal conversion of biomass to fuels and energetic materials. Curr Opin Chem Biol 17(3):515–521CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Küçük MM, Ağırtaş S (1999) Liquefaction of Prangmites australis by supercritical gas extraction. Biores Technol 69(2):141–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Liu A, Park Y, Huang Z, Wang B, Ankumah RO, Biswas PK (2006) Product identification and distribution from hydrothermal conversion of walnut shells. Energy Fuels 20(2):446–454CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. McKendry P (2002) Energy production from biomass (part 2): conversion technologies. Biores Technol 83(1):47–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Meyer S, Glaser B, Quicker P (2011) Technical, economical, and climate-related aspects of biochar production technologies: a literature review. Environ Sci Technol 45(22):9473–9483CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Miranda I, Pereira H (2007) The variation of chemical composition and pulping yield with age and growth factors in young Eucalyptus globulus. Wood Fiber Sci 34(1):140–145Google Scholar
  36. Mohan D, Pittman CU, Steele PH (2006) Pyrolysis of wood/biomass for bio-oil: a critical review. Energy Fuels 20(3):848–889CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mok WSL, Antal MJ Jr (1992) Uncatalyzed solvolysis of whole biomass hemicellulose by hot compressed liquid water. Ind Eng Chem Res 31(4):1157–1161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Owusu PA, Asumadu-Sarkodie S (2016) A review of renewable energy sources, sustainability issues and climate change mitigation. Cogent Eng 3(1):1167990Google Scholar
  39. Pereira H (1988) Variability in the chemical composition of plantation eucalypts (Eucalyptus globulus Labill.). Wood Fiber Sci 20(1):82–90Google Scholar
  40. Pettersen RC (1984) The chemical composition of wood. The chemistry of solid wood 207:57–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Promdej C, Chuntanapum A, Matsumura Y (2010) Effect of temperature on tarry material production of glucose in supercritical water gasification. J Jan Inst Energy 89(12):1179–1184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rabemanolontsoa H, Saka S (2013) Comparative study on chemical composition of various biomass species. RSC Adv 3(12):3946–3956CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ramage J, Scurlock J (1996) Biomass. In: Boyle G (ed) Renewable energy-power for a sustainable future. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UKGoogle Scholar
  44. Ramke HG, Blöhse D, Lehmann HJ, Fettig J (2009). Hydrothermal carbonization of organic waste. In: Cossu R, Diaz LF, Stegman R (eds) Twelfth international waste management and landfill symphosium. Sardina: Pro., CISA pubGoogle Scholar
  45. Sasaki M, Hayakawa T, Arai K, Adschiri T (2003) Measurement of the rate of retro-aldol condensation of D-xylose in subcritical and supercritical water. In: Hydrothermal reactions and techniques, pp. 169–176Google Scholar
  46. Saxena RC, Adhikari DK, Goyal HB (2009) Biomass-based energy fuel through biochemical routes: a review. Renew Sustain Energy Rev 13(1):167–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Schmieder H, Abeln J, Boukis N, Dinjus E, Kruse A, Kluth M, Petrich G, Sadri E, Schacht M (2000) Hydrothermal gasification of biomass and organic wastes. J Supercrit Fluids 17(2):145–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sticklen MB (2008) Plant genetic engineering for biofuel production: towards affordable cellulosic ethanol. Nat Rev Genet 9(6):433CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sudasinghe N, Cort JR, Hallen R, Olarte M, Schmidt A, Schaub T (2014) Hydrothermal liquefaction oil and hydrotreated product from pine feedstock characterized by heteronuclear two-dimensional NMR spectroscopy and FT-ICR mass spectrometry. Fuel 137:60–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Taherzadeh MJ, Eklund R, Gustafsson L, Niklasson C, Lidén G (1997) Characterization and fermentation of dilute-acid hydrolyzates from wood. Ind Eng Chem Res 36(11):4659–4665CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Toor SS, Rosendahl L, Rudolf A (2011) Hydrothermal liquefaction of biomass: a review of subcritical water technologies. Energy 36(5):2328–2342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Watanabe M, Sato T, Inomata H, Smith RL Jr, Arai K Jr, Kruse A, Dinjus E (2004) Chemical reactions of C1 compounds in near-critical and supercritical water. Chem Rev 104(12):5803–5822CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Yin S, Tan Z (2012) Hydrothermal liquefaction of cellulose to bio-oil under acidic, neutral and alkaline conditions. Appl Energy 92:234–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Yuan XZ, Li H, Zeng GM, Tong JY, Xie W (2007) Sub-and supercritical liquefaction of rice straw in the presence of ethanol–water and 2-propanol–water mixture. Energy 32(11):2081–2088CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Zhang B, Huang HJ, Ramaswamy S (2007) Reaction kinetics of the hydrothermal treatment of lignin. In: Biotechnology for fuels and chemicals. Humana Press, Clifton, UK, pp. 487–499Google Scholar
  56. Zhong C, Wei X (2004) A comparative experimental study on the liquefaction of wood. Energy 29(11):1731–1741CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Zhou J, Chen Q, Zhao H, Cao X, Mei Q, Luo Z, Cen K (2009) Biomass-oxygen gasification in a high-temperature entrained-flow gasifier. Biotechnol Adv 27(5):606–611CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Zhou X, Li W, Mabon R, Broadbelt LJ (2017) A critical review on hemicellulose pyrolysis. Energy Technol 5(1):52–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. Chitra Devi
    • 1
    Email author
  • S. Mothil
    • 1
  • R. Sathish Raam
    • 1
  • K. Senthilkumar
    • 1
  1. 1.Kongu Engineering CollegeErodeIndia

Personalised recommendations