Lignocellulosic biomass (or LC biomass) refers to plant biomass that is composed of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin.
Biomass is increasingly recognized as a valuable commodity, since it is an alternative to petroleum for the production of biofuels and chemicals. Even today, cellulose consumption is threefold higher than that of steel and is equal to that of cereals (Das & Singh, 2004), but its current uses are mainly restricted to the materials sector (wood-based and paper). From an energy point of view lignocellulosic biomass can replace fossil fuels.
Currently, biomass is the most important source of renewable energy and the only renewable source of carbon. It can provide for about 13% of total energy consumption worldwide (IEA Statistics, 2008). However, because much of this consumption concerns firewood-based heating and cooking it cannot be considered as optimal use of LC biomass resources. Nevertheless, the major part of the annual production of biomass (220 billion tonnes per year) remains underexploited. There remains considerable scope for the development of lignocellulosic biomass value chains for the production of energy, chemicals, polymers and materials.