Lignocellulose has a vast untapped potential in functional fractions with high-value commercial applications. These fractions cannot be extracted with the current thermochemical pulping methods, therefore, new methods are being developed to complement traditional kraft pulping.
Enzymes, for example, offer a highly selective method for extracting new fractions, and the use of energy and chemicals are significantly lower than in traditional pulping. Recent developments in biotechnology enable access to a number of potentially interesting enzymes and several new types of reactions. This fundamental research is expected to open several new avenues for commercial production of high value added materials.
Future biorefineries use these novel processes to increase the yield of these fractions as well as to create entirely new ones. Some of the innovative new technologies can be used as drop-in solutions, replacing toxic chemicals in kraft pulping and lengthening the life cycle of old mills. Other novel technologies will complement current production and create new, profitable products from lignocellulose.