Biochar: From by-products of agro-industrial lignocellulosic waste to tailored carbon-based catalysts for biomass thermochemical conversions

Rongge Zou, Moriko Qian, Chenxi Wang, Wendy Mateo, Yunpu Wang, Leilei Dai, Xiaona Lin, Yunfeng Zhao, Erguang Huo, Lu Wang, Xuesong Zhang, Xiao Kong, Roger Ruan, Hanwu Lei

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Producing chemicals and energy from renewable biomass is critical in tackling the energy crisis. As a by-product of biomass conversion, biochar with its low price, extensive sources, has attracted much attention in fields such as environment, agriculture, materials, energy, and so on. However, many studies of biochar have been focused on its application in the environmental remediation field, little attention has been put on biochar as catalyst or catalyst support. Nevertheless, biochar has a promising application as a carbon-based catalyst and catalyst support due to its huge specific surface area (SSA), rich functional groups, and complex network structure. Besides, the introduction of biochar as catalysts favorably increases the economic benefits of biomass conversion processes. This review focuses on the biochar synthesis from agricultural and forestry waste as carbon-based catalysts and catalyst support, and their applications, especially in biorefinery. By reviewing the formation mechanism, catalytic mechanism, synthesis conditions, modification of biochar catalyst or catalyst support, and its applications, we aim to offer instructions for producing application-oriented biochar catalysts and catalyst supports for thermochemical reactions in biorefinery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number135972
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
StatePublished - Aug 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive [Grant no. 2016-67021-24533 and 2018-67009-27904 ] from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture. Special thanks to the China Scholarship Council (CSC) and Biosystem Engineering Laboratory for their support. We thank Ryan Lei for the English language editing.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.


  • Biochar
  • Biorefinery
  • Catalyst
  • Catalyst support
  • Thermochemical conversion


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