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Novel Routes In Transformation Of Lignocellulosic Biomass To Furan Platform Chemicals: From Pretreatment To Enzyme Catalysis

Grigorios Dedes, Anthi Karnaouri, Evangelos Topakas

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The constant depletion of fossil fuels along with the increasing need for novel materials, necessitate the development of alternative routes for polymer synthesis. Lignocellulosic biomass, the most abundant carbon source on the planet, can serve as a renewable starting material for the design of environmentally-friendly processes for the synthesis of polyesters, polyamides and other polymers with significant value. The present review provides an overview of the main processes that have been reported throughout the literature for the production of bio-based monomers from lignocellulose, focusing on physicochemical procedures and biocatalysis. An extensive description of all different stages for the production of furans is presented, starting from physicochemical pretreatment of biomass and biocatalytic decomposition to monomeric sugars, coupled with isomerization by enzymes prior to chemical dehydration by acid Lewis catalysts. A summary of all biotransformations of furans carried out by enzymes is also described, focusing on galactose, glyoxal and aryl-alcohol oxidases, monooxygenases and transaminases for the production of oxidized derivatives and amines. The increased interest in these products in polymer chemistry can lead to a redirection of biomass valorization from second generation biofuels to chemical synthesis, by creating novel pathways to produce bio-based polymers.