Recent advances of lignin valorization techniques toward sustainable aromatics and potential benchmarks to fossil refinery products

Rabia Jalil Khan, Chun Yin Lau, Jianyu Guan, Chun Ho Lam, Jun Zhao, Ying Ji, Huaimin Wang, Jingliang Xu, Duu Jong Lee, Shao Yuan Leu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Aromatic compounds are important fuels and key chemical precursors for organic synthesis, however the current aromatics market are mainly relying on fossil resources which will eventually contribute to carbon emissions. Lignin has been recognized as a drop-in substitution to conventional aromatics, with its values gradually realized after tremendous research efforts in the recent five years. To facilitate the development of a possible lignin economics, this study overviewed the recent advances of various biorefinery techniques and the remaining challenging for lignin valorization. Starting with recent discovery of unexplored lignin structures, the potential functions of lignin related chemical structures were emphasized. The important breakthrough of lignin-first pretreatment, catalytic lignin depolymerization, and the high value products with possible benchmark with modern aromatics were reviewed with possible future targets. Possible retrofit of conventional petroleum refinery for lignin products were also introduced and hopefully paving a way to progressively migrate the industry towards carbon neutrality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126419
JournalBioresource Technology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Aromatics market
  • Biorefinery
  • Catalytic depolymerization
  • Lignin valorization
  • Pretreatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal

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