Next Article in Journal
Experimental Study on High-Performers Quaternary Copolymer Based on Host–Guest Effect
Next Article in Special Issue
Emerging Developments Regarding Nanocellulose-Based Membrane Filtration Material against Microbes
Previous Article in Journal
FT-IR Study, Thermal Analysis, and Evaluation of the Antibacterial Activity of a MK-Geopolymer Mortar Using Glass Waste as Fine Aggregate
Previous Article in Special Issue
Thermal Stability and Dynamic Mechanical Analysis of Benzoylation Treated Sugar Palm/Kenaf Fiber Reinforced Polypropylene Hybrid Composites
Font Type:
Arial Georgia Verdana
Font Size:
Aa Aa Aa
Line Spacing:
Column Width:

Greener Pretreatment Approaches for the Valorisation of Natural Fibre Biomass into Bioproducts

Mohd Nor Faiz Norrrahim
Muhammad Roslim Muhammad Huzaifah
Mohammed Abdillah Ahmad Farid
Siti Shazra Shazleen
Muhammad Syukri Mohamad Misenan
Tengku Arisyah Tengku Yasim-Anuar
Jesuarockiam Naveen
Norizan Mohd Nurazzi
Mohd Saiful Asmal Rani
Mohd Idham Hakimi
Rushdan Ahmad Ilyas
10,* and
Mohd Azwan Jenol
Research Center for Chemical Defence, Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia, Kem Sungai Besi, Kuala Lumpur 57000, Malaysia
Department of Bioprocess Technology, Faculty of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia UPM, Serdang 43400, Malaysia
Faculty of Agricultural Science and Forestry, Bintulu Campus, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Bintulu Sarawak 97000, Malaysia
Laboratory of Biopolymer and Derivatives, Institute of Tropical Forestry and Forest Products (INTROP), Universiti Putra Malaysia UPM, Serdang 43400, Malaysia
Department of Chemistry, College of Arts and Science, Yildiz Technical University, Davutpasa Campus, Esenler, Istanbul 34220, Turkey
Nextgreen Pulp & Paper Sdn. Bhd., Menara LGB, Jalan Wan Kadir, Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, Kuala Lumpur 60000, Malaysia
School of Mechanical Engineering, Vellore Institute of Technology, Vellore 632014, India
Center for Defence Foundation Studies, Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia, Kem Perdana Sungai Besi, Kuala Lumpur 57000, Malaysia
School of Materials and Mineral Resources Engineering, Engineering Campus, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Nibong Tebal 14300, Malaysia
School of Chemical and Energy Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia UTM, Johor Bahru 81310, Malaysia
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Polymers 2021, 13(17), 2971;
Submission received: 8 August 2021 / Revised: 24 August 2021 / Accepted: 27 August 2021 / Published: 31 August 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bio and Synthetic Based Polymer Composite Materials)


The utilization of lignocellulosic biomass in various applications has a promising potential as advanced technology progresses due to its renowned advantages as cheap and abundant feedstock. The main drawback in the utilization of this type of biomass is the essential requirement for the pretreatment process. The most common pretreatment process applied is chemical pretreatment. However, it is a non-eco-friendly process. Therefore, this review aims to bring into light several greener pretreatment processes as an alternative approach for the current chemical pretreatment. The main processes for each physical and biological pretreatment process are reviewed and highlighted. Additionally, recent advances in the effect of different non-chemical pretreatment approaches for the natural fibres are also critically discussed with a focus on bioproducts conversion.

Graphical Abstract

1. Introduction

Many industries currently produce many tons of agro-industrial wastes. However, direct utilization of lignocellulosic biomass as a feedstock for bioproducts is challenging due to their complex structure (as represented in Figure 1). A variety of useful components, including sugars, protein, lipids, cellulose, and lignin, are present in natural fibres. The major issue that limits their utilization is, however, the tight bonding within their components [1]. Cross-linking of polysaccharides and lignin occurs through ester and ether bonds, while microfibrils produced by cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin aid in the stability of plant cell wall structure [2,3]. These strong cross-linking connections exist between the components of the plant cell wall that act as a barrier to its disintegration.
Pretreatment helps to fractionate biomass prior to further processes, making it simpler to handle in the process [4,5,6]. It enables biomass hydrolysis and makes building blocks for biobased products, fuels, and chemicals. It is often the initial stage of the biorefining process and enables the following steps such as enzymatic hydrolysis and fermentation to be carried out more quickly, effectively, and economically [7]. The pretreatment method used is entirely dependent on the targeted application. Numerous pretreatment methods are mainly developed to effectively separate these interconnected components in order to get the most advantages from the lignocellulosic biomass’s constituents.
Pretreatment of natural fibres is not as straightforward as it may seem. In fact, it is the second most expensive procedure after the installation of a power generator. Hydrogen bond disruption, cross-linked matrix disruption, as well as increased porosity and surface area, are the three objectives that a good pretreatment technique accomplishes in crystalline cellulose. Additionally, the result of pretreatment varies attributed to the different ratios of cell wall components [8]. More criteria to take into consideration for efficient and economically feasible pretreatment process include less chemical usage, prevention of hemicellulose and cellulose from denaturation, minimum energy demand, low price, and the capacity to reduce size.
Biomass recalcitrance is a term used for the ability of natural fibres to resist chemical and biological degradation. While there are many components involved in the recalcitrance of lignocellulosic biomass, the crystalline structure of cellulose, the degree of lignification, accessible surface area (porosity), the structural heterogeneity, and complexity of cell-wall are primary causes [9,10]. As a consequence of breaking the resistant structure of lignocellulose, it causes lignin sheath, hemicellulose, and crystallinity to all be degraded, as well as casuing a decrease in cellulose’s degree of polymerization [11].
Depending on the types of natural fibres employed, the preference for the pretreatment method varies according to the composition of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. Figure 2 depicts the general differences between the many common approaches which come under the four categories of physical, chemical, biological, and combination pretreatment [4]. While some of these methods have successfully transitioned from a research platform to an industrial stage, there are many hurdles, and one of the greatest is the requirement for highly toxic waste generation and high-energy inputs. From here, a serious issue that must be addressed is the lack of green and cost-effective solutions. Nevertheless, it has only lately garnered significant attention as a potential solution to the problem by focusing on the employment of non-chemical pretreatment. This could be reflected by the increment in article publications that reviewed lignocellulosic fibre pretreatment via individual greener approach as highlighted in Table 1 indicating that this topic is increasingly well-known owing to environmental concerns. The development of technology that maximises the use of raw resources, reduces waste, and avoids the use of poisonous and hazardous compounds is critical to accomplishing this objective. However, a review of all greener pretreatment approaches for lignocellulosic biomass is missing in the current literature.
Hence, the green pretreatment approaches for lignocellulosic biomass such as physical, biological, and combination methods, as well as their impact on the separation of the complex components of different lignocellulosic sources, are reviewed in more detail in the next sections.

2. Physical Pretreatment

The physical pretreatment allows increasing the specific surface area of the fibres via mechanical comminution. It also contributes to reduce the crystallinity of the natural fibres and enhance their digestibility. The physical pretreatment usually does not affect the chemical composition of natural fibres. Physical pretreatment can be conducted by using milling, extrusion and ultrasound. Physical pretreatment is often an essential step prior to or following chemical or biochemical processing. However, the information on the mechanism of how physical pretreatment modifies the structures of the fibre is still limited.
There are some drawbacks of physical pretreatment that need to be considered. Physical pretreatment lacks the ability to remove the lignin and hemicellulose which limits the enzymes’ access to cellulose. Besides that, physical pretreatment requires high energy consumption which limits its large-scale implementation and environmental safety concerns.

2.1. Mechanical Extrusion

Mechanical extrusion is one of the most conventional methods of pretreatment [17]. In this pretreatment, the fibres are subjected to a heating process (>300 °C) under shear mixing. Due to the combined effects of high temperatures that are maintained in the barrel and the shearing force generated by the rotating screw blades, the amorphous and crystalline cellulose matrix in the biomass residues is disrupted. Besides that, extrusion requires a significant amount of high energy, making it a cost-intensive method and difficult to scale up for industrial purposes [17].
Temperature and screw speed of extrusion are the main important factors. Karunanithy and Muthukumarappan [18] studied the effect of these factors on the pretreatment of corn cobs. When pretreatment was carried out at different temperatures (25, 50, 75, 100, and 125 °C) and different screw speeds (25, 50, 75, 100, and 125 rpm), maximum concentration sugars were obtained at 75 rpm and 125 °C using cellulase and β-glucosidase in the ratio of 1:4, which were nearly 2.0 times higher than the controls.

2.2. Milling

Mechanical milling is used to reduce the crystallinity of cellulose. It can reduce the size of fibre up to 0.2 mm. However, studies found that further reduction of biomass particles below 0.4 mm has no significant effect on the rate and yield of hydrolysis [17]. The type of milling and milling duration are important factors that influence the milling process. These factors can greatly affect the specific surface area, the final degree of polymerization, and a net reduction in cellulose crystallinity.
Wet disk milling has been a popular mechanical pretreatment due to its low energy consumption as compared to other milling processes. Disk milling enhances cellulose hydrolysis by producing fibres and more effective as compared to hammer milling which produces finer bundles [19]. Hideno et al. [20] compared the effect of wet disk milling and conventional ball milling pretreatment method over rice straw. The optimal conditions obtained were 60 min of milling time in case of dry ball milling while 10 repeated milling operations were required in case of wet disk milling.

2.3. Ultrasound

Ultrasound is relatively a new technique used for the pretreatment of fibres [17]. Ultrasound waves affect the physical, chemical, and morphological properties of fibres. Ultrasound treatment leads to the formation of small cavitation bubbles. These bubbles can rupture the cellulose and hemicellulose fractions. The ultrasonic field is influenced by ultrasonic frequency and duration, reactor geometry, and types of solvent used. Besides that, fibres characteristics and reactor configuration also influence the pretreatment [21].
The power and duration of ultrasound are important to be optimised depending on the fibres and slurry characteristics. This is important to meet the pretreatment objectives. Duration of ultrasound pretreatment has maximum effect on pretreatment of fibres. Besides that, a higher ultrasound power level has an adverse effect on the pretreatment. It can lead to the formation of bubbles near the tip of the ultrasound transducer which hinders the transfer of energy to the liquid medium [22].

3. Biological Pretreatment

Retting is a biological process in which enzymatic activity removes non-cellulosic components connected to the fibre bundle, resulting in detached cellulosic fibres. The dew retting uses anaerobic bacteria fermentation and fungal colonization to produce enzymes that hydrolyse fibre-binding components on fibre bundles. Clostridium sp. is an anaerobic bacterium commonly found in lakes, rivers, and ponds. Plant stems were cut and equally scattered in the fields during the dew retting process, where bacteria, sunlight, atmospheric air and dew caused the disintegration of stem cellular tissues and sticky compounds that encircled the fibres [23]. For the dew retting procedure to enhance fungal colonization, locations with a warm day and heavy might dew are recommended.
Bleuze et al. [24] investigated the flax fibre’s modifications during the dew retting process. Microbial colonization can be affected the chemical compositions of cell walls. After seven days, fungal hyphae and parenchyma were found on the epidermis and around fibre bundles, respectively. After the retting process (42 days), signs of parenchyma deterioration and fibre bundle decohesion revealed microbial infestation at the stem’s inner core.
Fila et al. [25] found 23 different varieties of dew-retting agent fungi in Southern Europe. All Aspergillus and Penicillium strains yield high-quality retted flax fibres, according to the researchers. Besides that, under field conditions, Repeckien and Jankauskiene [26] investigated the effects of fungal complexes on flax dew-retting acceleration. Cladosporium species variations with high colonization rates (25–29%) have been identified as a good fungus for fibre separation. Most fungi survived on flax fed with fungal complex N-3, which contained six different fungal strains.
On a commercial scale, Jankauskiene et al. [27] optimised the dew retting method. Two fungal combinations were created and put to straw after the swath was pulled and returned. Furthermore, after spraying Cladosporium herbarum suspension during fibre harvesting, extremely high fibre separation was found.

Bacterial and Fungi Interaction

Fungi colonization is thought to be the most important enzymatic active mechanism for dew retting. Recent research has focused on the interplay of the bacterial and fungal communities during dew retting. The association between the chemical contents of hemp fibres and microbial population fluctuation during the retting process was investigated by Liu et al. [28]. In the first seven days, fungal colonization was discovered with very little bacteria. After 20 days, there was a gradually risen in bacterial attachments on the fibre surface, with fewer fungal hyphae. The area with the highest bacterial concentration was found to severely deteriorate. The phylogenetic tree for the bacterial and fungal population in dew-retting hemp fibres is shown in Figure 3. While Table 2 shows ultrastructural changes in hemp stems and fibres as a result of microbial activity during the retting process.

4. Combination Pretreatment

It can be noticed from the green pretreatment techniques applied to pretreat the lignocellulosic biomass reviewed in the previous section that, while each pretreatment method makes a significant contribution, no single pretreatment approach yields efficient results without its own inherent limitations. Therefore, the combined pretreatment strategies could minimise the drawbacks while still achieving the intended result.

4.1. Physiochemical Pretreatment

Physiochemical pretreatment could be achieved by temperature elevation and irradiation in the processing of lignocellulosic material. Physiochemical pretreatment by steam such as superheated steam, hydrothermal and steam explosion is the most common pretreatments applied on natural fibre for several purposes. Physiochemical pretreatment is usually applied to remove the hemicellulose and lignin from the natural fibres [30].

4.1.1. Superheated Steam

Pretreatment of fibres by superheated steam is gaining interest recently, as this pretreatment is considered as an environmentally friendly technique to remove hemicellulose. This could be a great alternative to chemical pretreatment in order to isolate the cellulose. Superheated steam is believed as the most economical pretreatment as compared to the other physical pretreatments as discussed before.
Superheated steam is unsaturated (dry) steam generated by the addition of heat to saturated (wet) steam [31]. It has several advantages such as improved energy efficiency, higher drying rate, being conducted at atmospheric pressure and reduced environmental impact when condensate is reused [32,33]. Saturated steam cannot be superheated when it is in contact with water which is also heated, and condensation of superheated steam cannot occur without being reduced to the temperature of saturated steam. It has a high heat transfer coefficient, enabling rapid and uniform heating. Drying rates with superheated steam are faster than those with conventional hot air. Steam in a dried state or superheated steam is assumed to behave like a perfect gas. Although superheated steam is considered a perfect gas, it possesses properties like those of gases namely pressure, volume, temperature, internal energy, enthalpy and entropy. The pressure, volume, and temperature of steam as a vapour is not connected by any simple relationship such as is expressed by the characteristic equation for a perfect gas. Figure 4 shows the schematic diagram of superheated steam pretreatment. The saturated steam was generated in the boiler. The saturated steam produced was further heated by a super-heater to produce superheated steam. Then, the superheated steam was subjected to the fibres.
Superheated steam has been managed to alter the chemical composition of natural fibres. It has been proven that superheated steam pretreatment managed to remove high amount of hemicellulose from the lignocellulose fibres [34,35,36,37,38,39,40]. According to Warid et al. [40], superheated steam pretreatment on oil palm biomass at higher temperature and shorter time managed to remove a high amount of hemicellulose while maintaining the cellulose composition as compared to the method reported by Norrrahim et al. [39]. It was found that oil palm mesocarp fibre pretreated at 260 °C/30 min managed to remove hemicellulose of 68%, while cellulose degradation is maintained below 5%. Besides that, superheated steam was also able to remove silica bodies from the fibres where the presence of silica bodies increases the difficulty in grinding the fibre and causes abrasive wear and screw damage [32].

4.1.2. Hydrothermal

Hydrothermal treatment is another pretreatment that has been proven to effectively remove impurities such as hemicellulose, lignin, and silica from lignocellulosic biomass. This treatment is being widely used in industry, owing to its low cost of production, high effectiveness in removing impurities without affecting the cellulose structure, disorganizing hydrogen bonds, swelling of the lignocellulosic biomass, as well as minimum requirements of preparation and handling [41,42]. In contrast to the superheated steam system that uses steam as the main mechanism, hydrothermal pretreatment only relies on water that will be subjected to a high temperature during the whole processing [43]. This treatment is also considered as an autohydrolysis of lignocellulosic linkages, with the presence of hydronium ions (H3O+) generated from water and acetic groups released from hemicellulose. The hydronium ions (H3O+) will act as a catalyst to break down and loosen the lignocellulosic structure [41,44]. This then will improve the effectiveness of further treatments such as enzymatic hydrolysis for biosugar production [43] and anaerobic digestion for biomethane production [45].
Numerous studies have reported the effectiveness of this treatment in reducing impurities, especially at a very high temperature. Zhang et al. [46] studied the effects of different hydrothermal temperatures which were 170, 190, and 210 °C at 20 min pretreatment time on corn stover. This study reported a drastic reduction in hemicellulose with an increase in hydrothermal temperature. In fact, no content of hemicellulose was detected and almost 125% of lignin was removed after hydrothermal treatment at 210 °C. Similarly, Phuttaro et al. [47] also reported the same trend of results, in which no amount of hemicellulose was detected in Napier grass after pretreatet at 200 °C for 15 min. Both studies agreed that hydrothermal pretreatment plays a significant effect in improving the enzymatic hydrolysis yield afterwards. Meanwhile, Lee and Park [42] reported that sunflower biomass treated with hydrothermal pretreatment at 160–220 °C for 30 min demonstrated a reduction of hemicellulose and lignin up to 25 and 15%, respectively. This then led to higher methane yield (213.87–289.47 mL g−1) and biodegradability (43–63%) than the non-hydrothermally treated biomass. All of these reviews highlighted that despite of using a simple mechanism, hydrothermal can still efficiently removed impurities and improve the chemical and physical properties of lignocellulosic biomass prior to further treatments.

4.1.3. Steam Explosion

Steam explosion involves the use of high pressure and heat to pretreat lignocellulosic biomass. The biomass will be subjected to heat ranging from 160–280 °C and high pressure ranging from 0.2–5 MPa, depending on biomass source, duration, and other conditions [48,49]. Before the discovery of superheated steam and hydrothermal treatment, the steam explosion was widely applied in the industry due to its low energy consumption and chemical usage [49]. Figure 5 shows an example of the steam explosion process. Theoretically, biomass needs to be subjected to high temperature and pressure in a close reactor. The water contained in the biomass will then be evaporated and expanded, led to hydrolysis to a certain extent. Explosive decompression will then occur by promptly reducing the pressure to the atmospheric level [50,51].
Steam explosion treatment helps to reduce the particle size of biomass, disrupt the structure of lignocellulosic biomass by removing amorphous structures such as hemicellulose and other impurities, and reduce cellulose crystallinity [52]. Similar to hydrothermal, the steam explosion also carried out auto-hydrolysis. During processing, acetic acids and other organic acids will be formed, and this will assist in the breakdown of ester and ether bonds in the cellulose-hemicellulose-lignin matrix. For steam explosion, reaction temperature, pressure, and processing duration are considered as the key factors.
Numerous studies have reported the effectiveness of this treatment in reducing impurities and enhancing the effectiveness of further treatments. For example, Abraham et al. [52] discovered that the sudden pressure drop due to explosion has pre-defibrillated the raw banana, jute, and pineapple leaf fibre biomass after pretreated for 1 h, which then eases and enhances the efficiency of fibrillation process by acid hydrolysis for the production of nanocellulose. Meanwhile, Medina et al. [51] discovered an application of steam explosion pretreatment for empty fruit bunches. The heating time was around 2 min and the reaction time was controlled after the temperature was reached. It was found that the application of steam explosion helped to enhance the production of glucans to 34.69%, reduce the amount of hemicellulose to 68.11%, and increase enzymatic digestibility to 33%. This was all due to steam explosion pretreatment, which helped in increasing the fibre porosity of empty fruit bunches. Marques et al. [53] also highlighted that the oil palm mesocarp fibre which has been treated to the steam explosion has higher purity, thermal stability, and crystallinity than the non-treated biomass. The reaction time was between 3 to 17 min. The cellulose pulp yield was increased by 47%. In addition, high-quality lignin was obtained as a co-product of steam explosion pretreatment, which can potentially be used for other purposes such as in the development of resin.

4.2. Biological-Chemical Pretreatment

In recent years, a more often used combined pretreatment method is physical and chemical combined pretreatment, while biological and chemical combined pretreatment has yet to be thoroughly researched. Combining microbial and chemical pretreatments, for instance, is seen as a cost-effective technique for reducing pretreatment times, minimizing chemical usage and hence secondary pollution [54]. Table 3 listed different biological-chemical pretreatment approaches to pretreat lignocellulosic biomass. Till now, the biological-alkaline pretreatment for lignocellulosic biomass has been the most widely researched.

5. The Influence of Pretreatment of Natural Fibre on Several Applications

Pretreatment of lignocellulosic materials has long been known for its advantages. It has been applied for various applications such as biocomposites, adsorbent, paper, packaging, military, biosugars, biomedical, bioenergy and more [55,56,57,58,59,60,61,62,63,64,65,66,67,68]. In Table 4, the purposes of the non-chemical pretreatment strategies and their benefits and drawbacks are summarised [69]. Since there are so many pretreatment-related applications, discussing each pretreatment technique in depth becomes very challenging. For certain applications, pretreatment techniques applied on natural fibre are summarised in the following sections.

5.1. Influence of Physical Pretreatment on Applications

Physical pretreatment is responsible for the changes in specific surface area, particle sizes, crystallinity index, or polymerization degree of biomass. The physical pretreatment avoids the use of chemicals, thus reducing the generation of waste and inhibitors for subsequent reactions. The management of biomass after harvesting, storage, and transportation is made easier by a higher bulk density [70]. Reduced particle size and increased specific surface area facilitate the following process by establishing a phase barrier between lignocellulosic material and chemicals and eliminating heat transfer limitation [71]. Mechanical, microwave or ultrasound pretreatments are the most common techniques carried out to improve the efficiency of the main steps in biomass processing.
It has been discovered that milling leads to higher production of biogas, bioethanol, and biohydrogen. Given the high energy requirements of industrial milling and the increasing energy demand, it seems doubtful that milling will be economically viable [69]. While most studies demonstrated that milling after chemical pretreatment reduces the amount of energy used and the cost of solid-liquid separation, the amount of mixing in pretreatment slurries and fermentation inhibitors are avoided [72]. Thus, understanding the characteristics of the feedstock is critical for making the best choice of technique and equipment for mechanical processing, and this should guarantee an adequate cost-effectiveness balance [73].
De la Rubia et al. [74] discovered that the excessive reduction in biomass may lower biofuel generation and impede methane synthesis during anaerobic digestion by the formation of inhibitory volatile fatty acids (VFA). When coupled with other pretreatment techniques, size reduction is more successful. The greatest biogas generation from rice straw was achieved via a combination of milling, grinding, and heating treatment. Milling is beneficial since it eliminates inhibitors of fermentation such as furfural and hydroxyl methyl furfural [75]. There have also been suggestions for other types of physical pretreatment, including the use of gamma rays to break the ß-1,4 glycosidic linkages, which results in a higher surface area and a lower crystallinity [76]. Ball milling pretreatment gave the lowest particle size compared to mashing or chipping but resulted in a lower hydrolysis rate [77]. On a wide scale, this technique will certainly be extremely costly, and it will raise significant environmental and safety issues. The use of a twin-screw extruder for methane production may reduce 50% of hemicellulose content. This concomitantly increases the fraction of soluble chemicals, e.g., carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, minerals, and vitamins, and rapidly converted to 15–21% more biogas by methanogenic microorganisms [78]. Table 5 summarises the applications that used physical pretreatments and their yield improvement and product properties.

5.2. Influence of Biological Pretreatment on Applications

The majority of pretreatment methods involve costly instruments or equipment that consumes a lot of energy, depending on the process. Biomass conversion in particular requires a large amount of energy for physical and thermochemical operations. Biological treatment with different kinds of rot fungus is being recommended more than ever as a low-energy delignification technique. The pretreatment is renowned for working with fungal and enzyme-assisted processes to break down the barrier that has formed within the cell wall, allowing for more abundant lignocellulosic components to be utilised in the activities of cellulase enzymes, hence increase their digestibility and yield. For instance, a pretreatment may enhance the enzymatic hydrolysis rate by 3–10-fold [1].
Additionally, any pretreatment should prevent carbohydrate degradation or loss, as well as the production of by-products that are detrimental to future hydrolysis and fermentation. The presence of white-rot fungus allows the organism to delignify, without compensating for the carbohydrate content, resulting in enhanced 30–35% cellulose conversion to sugar [95] and an additional 10–96% methane production [96,97]. In contrast to thermochemical techniques, chemical pretreatment suffers from silica scaling that prohibits the recovery of alkaline chemicals, due to the high silica concentration of many agricultural feedstocks, such as rice and wheat straw. The economic feasibility of scaling up biological pretreatment is higher since it does not need a large initial capital investment due to the lack of or reduced use of chemicals and heat, as well as the absence of a necessity for feedstock size reduction [19]. A further disadvantage of the thermochemical method is that it often produces low-molecular-mass molecules with high pretreatment severities, which may act as an inhibitor to the primary process [98]. As a result, it needs a detoxification step after the thermochemical reaction, which adds to the cost [99].
Another possibility of biological pretreatment is the potential to produce a variety of value-added co-products or intermediates, including enzymes, reducing sugars, furfural, ethanol, protein and amino acids, carbohydrates, lipids, organic acids, phenols, activated carbon, degradable plastic composites, cosmetics, adsorbents, resins, medicines, foods and feeds, methane, pesticides, promoters, secondary metabolites, surfactants, fertiliser, and other miscellaneous products [100,101,102,103,104]. Despite many successful attempts, economic separation and co-products recovery have remained a problem. Nonetheless, the diversity of the product allows for a wide range of markets, which means that market saturation is less of a concern [97].
Despite the advantage of requiring no additional nutrients, the usual fungal breakdown process needs a lengthy incubation period of up to 14–56 days [105]. Carbohydrates also gradually degrade over this period, which results, even with selective lignin-degrading fungus, in a reduced sugar yield, therefore making fungal biological pretreatment is impracticable for use in industrial production. The use of enzymes rather than fungus may overcome these significant drawbacks, including less carbohydrate consumption, shorter treatment time, and better yield [106]. However, only a limited number of enzyme treatments are as efficacious in pulping as fungal treatments, since solid wood enzymes cannot penetrate effectively and need high pressure to get better results [97]. Table 6 summarises the applications that used biological pretreatments and their yield improvement and product properties.

6. Challenges and Future Recommendations

There is currently an issue with agro-industrial waste disposal across the world. Therefore, it is vital to continuously explore for alternatives to manage the problem effectively. A review of recent advances in the effect of different pretreatment techniques on the conversion of natural fibres to bioproducts has been discussed. It can be inferred that the downstream application has a profound effect on the selection and optimization of a feasible pretreatment technique. Among all of these, non-chemical approaches for natural fibres pretreatment are gaining popularity since they are more advantageous and greener than chemical pretreatment due to their chemical-free processability, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability. This is due to the fact that an ideal natural fibres pretreatment should have minimum or no solvent costs and also the capacity to process at high solids loadings with shorter treatment times and minimal inhibitor formation.
In fact, each pretreatment has its own set of limitations or shortcomings, and no specific technique can be used to pretreat all types of biomasses. Hence, a thorough understanding of the relationship between biomass structure and pretreatment is needed. Each pretreatment has a substantial impact on fibre properties. The selection of pretreatment is determined by the widespread application of natural fibre materials. Several factors such as type of fibre, crystallinity, molecular weight and other properties may influence in selecting the most effective pretreatment method. Additionally, operating conditions, such as temperature, time, etc must be taken into consideration during pretreatments as they have a direct influence on the fibre properties.
As mentioned previously, each pretreatment method has its benefits and shortcomings depending on the source of biomass, the processes employed, and the desired end product. Nevertheless, many previous studies have been conducted on a small scale, yet there is a significant disparity between laboratory preliminary findings, pilot-scale outcomes, and, eventually, industrial-scale results. Hence, further research is needed to address these issues and provide a feasible pretreatment approach for large-scale biorefinery operations.
Besides that, utilization of by-products derived from the pretreatment is also important to be investigated. For example, the SHS pretreatment had partially degraded the lignocellulosic structure of the biomass into smaller compounds such as acetic acid, formic, levulinic and succinic. These compounds were found useful to be used as antimicrobial agents. This indicates the possibility of having lignocellulosic components degradation products as byproducts during SHS pretreatment [33]. However, to the best of our knowledge, lack of reports was focused on the other type of pretreatments. Moreover, it is also important to ensure that there is no consequence generation of contaminants could be derived during the pretreatment process of fibres.
Even though most of the non-chemical pretreatment as discussed here are known to be more environmentally friendly, improvements are still needed. This is due to the fact that some of the techniques such as milling, SHS, and hydrothermal pretreatment require high production cost, especially at industrial levels. The high energy consumption and long processing time related to the pretreatment of fibres is still an issue that hampers the industrial applicability of some of these pretreatments. However, to the best of our knowledge, progress has been accomplished in this area, and numerous studies to overcome this issue have now been conducted worldwide.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, M.N.F.N., M.R.M.H., M.A.A.F., S.S.S., M.S.M.M. and T.A.T.Y.-A.; validation, J.N. and N.M.N.; writing—original draft preparation, M.N.F.N., M.R.M.H., M.A.A.F., S.S.S., M.S.M.M., T.A.T.Y.-A. and M.I.H.; supervision, R.A.I. and M.A.J.; project administration, M.S.A.R. and M.I.H.; funding acquisition, M.R.M.H. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research received no external funding and The APC was funded by Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

Not applicable.


The authors gratefully acknowledge the technical and financial support from the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).

Conflicts of Interest

There are no conflict of interest to declare.


  1. Aftab, M.N.; Iqbal, I.; Riaz, F.; Karadag, A.; Tabatabaei, M. Different Pretreatment Methods of Lignocellulosic Biomass for Use in Biofuel Production. In Biomass for Bioenergy-Recent Trends and Future Challenges; IntechOpen: London, UK, 2019. [Google Scholar]
  2. Xiao, C.; Bolton, R.; Pan, W. Lignin from rice straw Kraft pulping: Effects on soil aggregation and chemical properties. Bioresour. Technol. 2007, 98, 1482–1488. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  3. Himmel, M.E.; Ding, S.-Y.; Johnson, D.K.; Adney, W.S.; Nimlos, M.R.; Brady, J.W.; Foust, T.D. Biomass Recalcitrance: Engineering Plants and Enzymes for Biofuels Production. Science 2007, 315, 804–807. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  4. Tu, W.-C.; Hallett, J.P. Recent advances in the pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass. Curr. Opin. Green Sustain. Chem. 2019, 20, 11–17. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  5. Nurazzi, N.M. Treatments of natural fiber as reinforcement in polymer composites—A short review. Funct. Compos. Struct. 2021, 3, 2. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  6. Norrrahim, M.N.F.; Ilyas, R.A.; Nurazzi, N.M.; Rani, M.S.A.; Atikah, M.S.N.; Shazleen, S.S. Chemical Pretreatment of Lignocellulosic Biomass for the Production of Bioproducts: An Overview. Appl. Sci. Eng. Prog. 2021. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  7. Williams, C.L.; Emerson, R.M.; Tumuluru, J.S. Biomass Compositional Analysis for Conversion to Renewable Fuels and Chemicals. In Biomass Volume Estimation and Valorization for Energy; IntechOpen Limited: London, UK, 2017. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  8. Mood, S.H.; Golfeshan, A.H.; Tabatabaei, M.; Jouzani, G.S.; Najafi, G.; Gholami, M.; Ardjmand, M. Lignocellulosic biomass to bioethanol, a comprehensive review with a focus on pretreatment. Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 2013, 27, 77–93. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  9. Guerriero, G.; Hausman, J.F.; Strauss, J.; Ertan, H.; Siddiqui, K.S. Lignocellulosic biomass: Biosynthesis, degradation, and industrial utilization. Eng. Life Sci. 2016, 16, 1–16. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  10. Barakat, A.; De Vries, H.; Rouau, X. Dry fractionation process as an important step in current and future lignocellulose biorefineries: A review. Bioresour. Technol. 2013, 134, 362–373. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  11. Chen, H.; Liu, J.; Chang, X.; Chen, D.; Xue, Y.; Liu, P.; Lin, H.; Han, S. A review on the pretreatment of lignocellulose for high-value chemicals. Fuel Process. Technol. 2017, 160, 196–206. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  12. Koupaie, E.h.; Dahadha, S.; Lakeh, A.A.B.; Azizi, A.; Elbeshbishy, E. Enzymatic pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass for enhanced biomethane production-A review. J. Environ. Manag. 2019, 233, 774–784. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  13. Haldar, D.; Purkait, M.K. A review on the environment-friendly emerging techniques for pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass: Mechanistic insight and advancements. Chemosphere 2021, 264, 128523. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  14. Zadeh, Z.E.; Abdulkhani, A.; Aboelazayem, O.; Saha, B. Recent Insights into Lignocellulosic Biomass Pyrolysis: A Critical Review on Pretreatment, Characterization, and Products Upgrading. Processes 2020, 8, 799. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  15. Mahmood, H.; Moniruzzaman, M.; Iqbal, T.; Khan, M.J. Recent advances in the pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass for biofuels and value-added products. Curr. Opin. Green Sustain. Chem. 2019, 20, 18–24. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  16. Hassan, S.; Williams, G.A.; Jaiswal, A.K. Emerging technologies for the pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass. Bioresour. Technol. 2018, 262, 310–318. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  17. Kumar, A.K.; Sharma, S. Recent updates on different methods of pretreatment of lignocellulosic feedstocks: A review. Bioresour. Bioprocess. 2017, 4, 1–19. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  18. Karunanithy, C.T.; Muthukumarappan, K. Influence of Extruder Temperature and Screw Speed on Pretreatment of Corn Stover while Varying Enzymes and Their Ratios. Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol. 2010, 162, 264–279. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  19. Zhu, J.; Wang, G.; Pan, X.; Gleisner, R. Specific surface to evaluate the efficiencies of milling and pretreatment of wood for enzymatic saccharification. Chem. Eng. Sci. 2009, 64, 474–485. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  20. Hideno, A.; Inoue, H.; Tsukahara, K.; Fujimoto, S.; Minowa, T.; Inoue, S.; Endo, T.; Sawayama, S. Wet disk milling pretreatment without sulfuric acid for enzymatic hydrolysis of rice straw. Bioresour. Technol. 2009, 100, 2706–2711. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  21. Bussemaker, M.J.; Zhang, D. Effect of Ultrasound on Lignocellulosic Biomass as a Pretreatment for Biorefinery and Biofuel Applications. Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2013, 52, 3563–3580. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  22. Gogate, P.R.; Sutkar, V.S.; Pandit, A.B. Sonochemical reactors: Important design and scale up considerations with a special emphasis on heterogeneous systems. Chem. Eng. J. 2011, 166, 1066–1082. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  23. Sanjay, M.R.; Siengchin, S.; Parameswaranpillai, J.; Jawaid, M.; Pruncu, C.I.; Khan, A. A comprehensive review of techniques for natural fibers as reinforcement in composites: Preparation, processing and characterization. Carbohydr. Polym. 2019, 207, 108–121. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  24. Bleuze, L.; Lashermes, G.; Alavoine, G.; Recous, S.; Chabbert, B. Tracking the dynamics of hemp dew retting under controlled environmental conditions. Ind. Crop. Prod. 2018, 123, 55–63. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  25. Fila, G.; Manici, L.M.; Caputo, F. In vitro evaluation of dew-retting of flax by fungi from southern Europe. Ann. Appl. Biol. 2001, 138, 343–351. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  26. Repečkiene, J.; Jankauskiene, Z. Application of fungal complexes to improve flax dew-retting. Biomed. Moksl. 2009, 83, 63–71. [Google Scholar]
  27. Jankauskiene, Z.; Lugauskas, A.; Repeckiene, J. New Methods for the Improvement of Flax Dew Retting. J. Nat. Fibers 2007, 3, 59–68. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  28. Liu, M.; Ale, M.T.; Kołaczkowski, B.; Fernando, D.; Daniel, G.; Meyer, A.S.; Thygesen, A. Comparison of traditional field retting and Phlebia radiata Cel 26 retting of hemp fibres for fibre-reinforced composites. AMB Express 2017, 7, 1–15. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  29. Fernando, D.; Thygesen, A.; Meyer, A.S.; Daniel, G. Elucidating field retting mechanisms of hemp fibres for biocomposites: Effects of microbial actions and interactions on the cellular micro-morphology and ultrastructure of hemp stems and bast fibres. BioResources 2019, 14, 4047–4084. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  30. Farid, M.A.A.; Hassan, M.A.; Roslan, A.M.; Ariffin, H.; Norrrahim, M.N.F.; Othman, M.R.; Yoshihito, S. Improving the decolorization of glycerol by adsorption using activated carbon derived from oil palm biomass. Environ. Sci. Pollut. Res. 2021, 28, 27976–27987. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  31. Norrrahim, M.N.F. Superheated Steam Pretreatment of Oil Palm Biomass for Improving Nanofibrillation of Cellulose and Performance of Polypropylene/Cellulose Nanofiber Composites. Doctoral Thesis, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Selangor, Malaysia, 2018. [Google Scholar]
  32. Nordin, N.I.A.A.; Ariffin, H.; Andou, Y.; Hassan, M.A.; Shirai, Y.; Nishida, H.; Yunus, W.M.Z.W.; Karuppuchamy, S.; Ibrahim, N.A. Modification of Oil Palm Mesocarp Fiber Characteristics Using Superheated Steam Treatment. Molecules 2013, 18, 9132–9146. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  33. Sharip, N.S.; Ariffin, H.; Hassan, M.A.; Nishida, H.; Shirai, Y. Characterization and application of bioactive compounds in oil palm mesocarp fiber superheated steam condensate as an antifungal agent. RSC Adv. 2016, 6, 84672–84683. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  34. Megashah, L.N.; Ariffin, H.; Zakaria, M.R.; Hassan, M.A.; Andou, Y.; Padzil, F.N.M. Modification of cellulose degree of polymerization by superheated steam treatment for versatile properties of cellulose nanofibril film. Cellulose 2020, 27, 7417–7429. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  35. Bahrin, E.K.; Baharuddin, A.S.; Ibrahim, M.F.; Razak, M.N.A.; Sulaiman, A.; Aziz, S.A.; Hassan, M.A.; Shirai, Y.; Nishida, H. Physicochemical property changes and enzymatic hydrolysis enhancement of oil palm empty fruit bunches treated with superheated steam. BioResources 2012, 7, 1784–1801. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  36. Norrrahim, M.N.F.; Ariffin, H.; Hassan, M.A.; Ibrahim, N.A.; Yunus, W.M.Z.W.; Nishida, H. Utilisation of superheated steam in oil palm biomass pretreatment process for reduced chemical use and enhanced cellulose nanofibre production. Int. J. Nanotechnol. 2019, 16, 668. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  37. Norrrahim, M.; Ariffin, H.; Yasim-Anuar, T.; Hassan, M.; Ibrahim, N.; Yunus, W.; Nishida, H. Performance Evaluation of Cellulose Nanofiber with Residual Hemicellulose as a Nanofiller in Polypropylene-Based Nanocomposite. Polymers 2021, 13, 1064. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  38. Zakaria, M.R.; Norrrahim, M.N.F.; Hirata, S.; Hassan, M.A. Hydrothermal and wet disk milling pretreatment for high conversion of biosugars from oil palm mesocarp fiber. Bioresour. Technol. 2015, 181, 263–269. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed] [Green Version]
  39. Norrrahim, M.N.F.; Ariffin, H.; Yasim-Anuar, T.A.T.; Ghaemi, F.; Hassan, M.A.; Ibrahim, N.A.; Ngee, J.L.H.; Yunus, W.M.Z.W. Superheated steam pretreatment of cellulose affects its electrospinnability for microfibrillated cellulose production. Cellulose 2018, 25, 3853–3859. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  40. Warid, M.N.M.; Ariffin, H.; Hassan, M.A.; Shirai, Y. Optimization of Superheated Steam Treatment to Improve Surface Modification of Oil Palm Biomass Fiber. Bioresources 2016, 11, 5780–5796. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  41. Lei, H.; Cybulska, I.; Julson, J. Hydrothermal Pretreatment of Lignocellulosic Biomass and Kinetics. J. Sustain. Bioenergy Syst. 2013, 3, 250–259. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  42. Lee, J.; Park, K.Y. Impact of hydrothermal pretreatment on anaerobic digestion efficiency for lignocellulosic biomass: Influence of pretreatment temperature on the formation of biomass-degrading byproducts. Chemosphere 2020, 256, 127116. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  43. Zakaria, M.R.; Hirata, S.; Hassan, M.A. Hydrothermal pretreatment enhanced enzymatic hydrolysis and glucose production from oil palm biomass. Bioresour. Technol. 2015, 176, 142–148. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  44. Rasmussen, H.; Sørensen, H.R.; Meyer, A.S. Formation of degradation compounds from lignocellulosic biomass in the biorefinery: Sugar reaction mechanisms. Carbohydr. Res. 2014, 385, 45–57. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  45. Bianco, F.; Şenol, H.; Papirio, S. Enhanced lignocellulosic component removal and biomethane potential from chestnut shell by a combined hydrothermal–alkaline pretreatment. Sci. Total. Environ. 2021, 762, 144178. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  46. Zhang, H.; Li, J.; Huang, G.; Yang, Z.; Han, L. Understanding the synergistic effect and the main factors influencing the enzymatic hydrolyzability of corn stover at low enzyme loading by hydrothermal and/or ultrafine grinding pretreatment. Bioresour. Technol. 2018, 264, 327–334. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  47. Phuttaro, C.; Sawatdeenarunat, C.; Surendra, K.; Boonsawang, P.; Chaiprapat, S.; Khanal, S.K. Anaerobic digestion of hydrothermally-pretreated lignocellulosic biomass: Influence of pretreatment temperatures, inhibitors and soluble organics on methane yield. Bioresour. Technol. 2019, 284, 128–138. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  48. Megashah, L.N. Development of Efficient Processing Method for the Production of Cellulose Nanofibrils from Oil Palm Biomass. Doctoral Thesis, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Selangor, Malaysia, 2020. [Google Scholar]
  49. Sarker, T.R.; Pattnaik, F.; Nanda, S.; Dalai, A.K.; Meda, V.; Naik, S. Hydrothermal pretreatment technologies for lignocellulosic biomass: A review of steam explosion and subcritical water hydrolysis. Chemosphere 2021, 284, 131372. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  50. Marques, F.P.; Soares, A.K.L.; Lomonaco, D.; e Silva, L.M.A.; Santaella, S.T.; Rosa, M.D.F.; Leitão, R.C. Steam explosion pretreatment improves acetic acid organosolv delignification of oil palm mesocarp fibers and sugarcane bagasse. Int. J. Biol. Macromol. 2021, 175, 304–312. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  51. Medina, J.D.C.; Woiciechowski, A.; Filho, A.Z.; Nigam, P.S.; Ramos, L.P.; Soccol, C.R. Steam explosion pretreatment of oil palm empty fruit bunches (EFB) using autocatalytic hydrolysis: A biorefinery approach. Bioresour. Technol. 2016, 199, 173–180. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  52. Abraham, E.; Deepa, B.; Pothan, L.A.; Jacob, M.; Thomas, S.; Cvelbar, U.; Anandjiwala, R. Extraction of nanocellulose fibrils from lignocellulosic fibres: A novel approach. Carbohydr. Polym. 2011, 86, 1468–1475. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  53. Marques, F.P.; Silva, L.M.A.; Lomonaco, D.; Rosa, M.D.F.; Leitão, R.C. Steam explosion pretreatment to obtain eco-friendly building blocks from oil palm mesocarp fiber. Ind. Crop. Prod. 2020, 143, 111907. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  54. Meenakshisundaram, S.; Fayeulle, A.; Leonard, E.; Ceballos, C.; Pauss, A. Fiber degradation and carbohydrate production by combined biological and chemical/physicochemical pretreatment methods of lignocellulosic biomass—A review. Bioresour. Technol. 2021, 331, 125053. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  55. Ariffin, H.; Norrrahim, M.N.F.; Yasim-Anuar, T.A.T.; Nishida, H.; Hassan, M.A.; Ibrahim, N.A.; Yunus, W.M.Z.W. Oil Palm Biomass Cellulose-Fabricated Polylactic Acid Composites for Packaging Applications. In Bionanocomposites for Packaging Applications; Springer Science and Business Media LLC.: Berlin, Germany, 2017; pp. 95–105. [Google Scholar]
  56. Ilyas, R.; Sapuan, S.; Nurazzi, N.M.; Norrrahim, M.N.F.; Ibrahim, R.; Atikah, M.; Huzaifah, M.; Radzi, A.; Izwan, S.; Azammi, A.N.; et al. Macro to nanoscale natural fiber composites for automotive components: Research, development, and application. In Biocomposite and Synthetic Composites for Automotive Applications; Elsevier BV: Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2021; pp. 51–105. [Google Scholar]
  57. Ilyas, R.; Sapuan, S.; Harussani, M.; Hakimi, M.; Haziq, M.; Atikah, M.; Asyraf, M.; Ishak, M.; Razman, M.; Nurazzi, N.; et al. Polylactic Acid (PLA) Biocomposite: Processing, Additive Manufacturing and Advanced Applications. Polymers 2021, 13, 1326. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  58. Sharip, N.S.; Yasim-Anuar, T.A.T.; Norrrahim, M.N.F.; Shazleen, S.S.; Nurazzi, N.M.; Sapuan, S.M.; Ilyas, R.A. A Review on Nanocellulose Composites in Biomedical Application. In Composites in Biomedical Applications; CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL, USA, 2020; pp. 161–190. [Google Scholar]
  59. Norrrahim, M.N.F.; Kasim, N.A.M.; Knight, V.F.; Ujang, F.A.; Janudin, N.; Razak, M.A.I.A.; Shah, N.A.A.; Noor, S.A.M.; Jamal, S.H.; Ong, K.K.; et al. Nanocellulose: The next super versatile material for the military. Mater. Adv. 2021, 2, 1485–1506. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  60. Norrrahim, M.N.F.; Kasim, N.A.M.; Knight, V.F.; Misenan, M.S.M.; Janudin, N.; Shah, N.A.A.; Kasim, N.; Yusoff, W.Y.W.; Noor, S.A.M.; Jamal, S.H.; et al. Nanocellulose: A bioadsorbent for chemical contaminant remediation. RSC Adv. 2021, 11, 7347–7368. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  61. Yasim-Anuar, T.A.T. Well-Dispersed Cellulose Nanofiber in Low Density Polyethylene Nanocomposite by Liquid-Assisted Extrusion. Polymers 2020, 12, 927. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed] [Green Version]
  62. Norrrahim, M.N.F.; Nurazzi, N.M.; Jenol, M.A.; Farid, M.A.A.; Janudin, N.; Ujang, F.A.; Yasim-Anuar, T.A.T.; Najmuddin, S.U.F.S.; Ilyas, R.A. Emerging development of nanocellulose as an antimicrobial material: An overview. Mater. Adv. 2021, 2, 3538–3551. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  63. Nurazzi, N.M.; Asyraf, M.R.M.; Rayung, M.; Norrrahim, M.N.F.; Shazleen, S.S.; Rani, M.S.A.; Shafi, A.R.; Aisyah, H.A.; Radzi, M.H.M.; Sabaruddin, F.A.; et al. Thermogravimetric Analysis Properties of Cellulosic Natural Fiber Polymer Composites: A Review on Influence of Chemical Treatments. Polymers 2021, 13, 2710. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  64. Norrrahim, M.N.F. Cationic Nanocellulose as Promising Candidate for Filtration Material of COVID-19: A Perspective. Appl. Sci. Eng. Prog. 2021. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  65. Norrrahim, M.N.F.; Yasim-Anuar, T.A.T.; Sapuan, S.; Ilyas, R.; Hakimi, M.I.; Najmuddin, S.U.F.S.; Jenol, M.A. Nanocellulose Reinforced Polypropylene and Polyethylene Composite for Packaging Application. In Bio-based Packaging; Wiley: Hoboken, NJ, USA, 2021; pp. 133–150. [Google Scholar]
  66. Lee, C.H.; Lee, S.H.; Padzil, F.N.M.; Ainun, Z.M.A.; Norrrahim, M.N.F.; Chin, K.L. Biocomposites and Nanocomposites. In Composite Materials; Informa UK Limited: London, UK, 2021; pp. 29–60. [Google Scholar]
  67. Nurazzi, N.; Asyraf, M.; Athiyah, S.F.; Shazleen, S.; Rafiqah, S.; Harussani, M.; Kamarudin, S.; Razman, M.; Rahmah, M.; Zainudin, E.; et al. A Review on Mechanical Performance of Hybrid Natural Fiber Polymer Composites for Structural Applications. Polymers 2021, 13, 2170. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  68. Nurazzi, N.; Asyraf, M.; Khalina, A.; Abdullah, N.; Aisyah, H.; Rafiqah, S.; Sabaruddin, F.; Kamarudin, S.; Norrrahim, M.; Ilyas, R.; et al. A Review on Natural Fiber Reinforced Polymer Composite for Bullet Proof and Ballistic Applications. Polymers 2021, 13, 646. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  69. Agbor, V.B.; Cicek, N.; Sparling, R.; Berlin, A.; Levin, D.B. Biomass pretreatment: Fundamentals toward application. Biotechnol. Adv. 2011, 29, 675–685. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  70. Moset, V.; Xavier, C.D.A.N.; Feng, L.; Wahid, R.; Møller, H. Combined low thermal alkali addition and mechanical pre-treatment to improve biogas yield from wheat straw. J. Clean. Prod. 2018, 172, 1391–1398. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  71. Khan, A.S.; Man, Z.; Bustam, M.A.; Kait, C.F.; Khan, M.I.; Muhammad, N.; Nasrullah, A.; Ullah, Z.; Ahmad, P. Impact of Ball-Milling Pretreatment on Pyrolysis Behavior and Kinetics of Crystalline Cellulose. Waste Biomass-Valorization 2016, 7, 571–581. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  72. Zhu, J.Y.; Pan, X.; Zalesny, R.S. Pretreatment of woody biomass for biofuel production: Energy efficiency, technologies, and recalcitrance. Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 2010, 87, 847–857. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  73. Jȩdrzejczyk, M.; Soszka, E.; Czapnik, M.; Ruppert, A.M.; Grams, J. Physical and Chemical Pretreatment of Lignocellulosic Biomass. In Second and Third Generation of Feedstocks: The Evolution of Biofuels; Elsevier: Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2019; pp. 143–196. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  74. De la Rubia, M.A.; Fernández-Cegrí, V.; Raposo, F.; Borja, R. Influence of particle size and chemical composition on the performance and kinetics of anaerobic digestion process of sunflower oil cake in batch mode. Biochem. Eng. J. 2011, 58–59, 162–167. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  75. Ramos, L.P. The chemistry involved in the steam treatment of lignocellulosic materials. Química Nova 2003, 26, 863–871. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  76. Takács, E.; Wojnárovits, L.; Földváry, C.; Hargittai, P.; Borsa, J.; Sajó, I. Effect of combined gamma-irradiation and alkali treatment on cotton-cellulose. Radiat. Phys. Chem. 2000, 57, 399–403. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  77. Naimi, L.J.; Sokhansanj, S. Data-based equation to predict power and energy input for grinding wheat straw, corn stover, switchgrass, miscanthus, and canola straw. Fuel Process. Technol. 2018, 173, 81–88. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  78. Pérez-Rodríguez, N.; García-Bernet, D.; Domínguez, J.M. Faster methane production after sequential extrusion and enzymatic hydrolysis of vine trimming shoots. Environ. Chem. Lett. 2018, 16, 295–299. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  79. Zhang, S.-C.; Lai, Q.-H.; Lu, Y.; Liu, Z.-D.; Wang, T.; Zhang, C.; Xing, X.-H. Enhanced biohydrogen production from corn stover by the combination of Clostridium cellulolyticum and hydrogen fermentation bacteria. J. Biosci. Bioeng. 2016, 122, 482–487. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  80. He, L.; Huang, H.; Lei, Z.; Liu, C.; Zhang, Z. Enhanced hydrogen production from anaerobic fermentation of rice straw pretreated by hydrothermal technology. Bioresour. Technol. 2014, 171, 145–151. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  81. Baeta, B.; Lima, D.R.S.; Adarme, O.F.H.; Gurgel, L.; de Aquino, S.F. Optimization of sugarcane bagasse autohydrolysis for methane production from hemicellulose hydrolyzates in a biorefinery concept. Bioresour. Technol. 2016, 200, 137–146. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  82. Jackowiak, D.; Bassard, D.; Pauss, A.; Ribeiro, T. Optimisation of a microwave pretreatment of wheat straw for methane production. Bioresour. Technol. 2011, 102, 6750–6756. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  83. Li, L.; Kong, X.; Yang, F.; Li, D.; Yuan, Z.; Sun, Y. Biogas Production Potential and Kinetics of Microwave and Conventional Thermal Pretreatment of Grass. Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol. 2012, 166, 1183–1191. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  84. Simona, M.; Gianfranco, A.; Jody, G.; Paolo, B. Energetic assessment of extrusion as pre-treatment to improve the anaerobic digestion of agricultural ligno-cellulosic biomasses. In Proceedings of the 15th International Conference Ramiran 2013, Versailles, France, 3–5 June 2013; Volume 1. [Google Scholar]
  85. Bauer, A.; Lizasoain, J.; Theuretzbacher, F.; Agger, J.W.; Rincón, M.; Menardo, S.; Saylor, M.K.; Enguídanos, R.; Nielsen, P.J.; Potthast, A.; et al. Steam explosion pretreatment for enhancing biogas production of late harvested hay. Bioresour. Technol. 2014, 166, 403–410. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  86. Alinia, R.; Zabihi, S.; Esmaeilzadeh, F.; Kalajahi, J.F. Pretreatment of wheat straw by supercritical CO2 and its enzymatic hydrolysis for sugar production. Biosyst. Eng. 2010, 107, 61–66. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  87. Chandra, R.P.; Chu, Q.; Hu, J.; Zhong, N.; Lin, M.; Lee, J.-S.; Saddler, J. The influence of lignin on steam pretreatment and mechanical pulping of poplar to achieve high sugar recovery and ease of enzymatic hydrolysis. Bioresour. Technol. 2016, 199, 135–141. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  88. DeMartini, J.D.; Foston, M.; Meng, X.; Jung, S.; Kumar, R.; Ragauskas, A.J.; Wyman, C.E. How chip size impacts steam pretreatment effectiveness for biological conversion of poplar wood into fermentable sugars. Biotechnol. Biofuels 2015, 8, 1–16. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed] [Green Version]
  89. Walch, E.; Zemann, A.; Schinner, F.; Bonn, G.; Bobleter, O. Enzymatic saccharification of hemicellulose obtained from hydrothermally pretreated sugar cane bagasse and beech bark. Bioresour. Technol. 1992, 39, 173–177. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  90. Ståhl, M.; Nieminen, K.; Sixta, H. Hydrothermolysis of pine wood. Biomass-Bioenergy 2018, 109, 100–113. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  91. Pińkowska, H.; Krzywonos, M.; Wolak, P. Valorization of Rapeseed Meal by Hydrothermal Treatment—Effect of Reaction Parameters on Low Molecular Products Distribution. Cellul. Chem. Technol. 2019, 53, 755–765. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  92. Zhang, Y.; Chen, J.; Zhang, L.; Zhan, P.; Liu, N.; Wu, Z. Preparation of nanocellulose from steam exploded poplar wood by enzymolysis assisted sonication Preparation of nanocellulose from steam exploded poplar wood by enzymolysis assisted sonication. Mater. Res. Express 2020, 7, 035010. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  93. Wang, Y.; Wei, X.; Li, J.; Wang, Q.; Wang, F.; Kong, L. Homogeneous Isolation of Nanocellulose from Cotton Cellulose by High Pressure Homogenization. J. Mater. Sci. Chem. Eng. 2013, 1, 49–52. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  94. Li, J.; Wei, X.; Wang, Q.; Chen, J.; Chang, G.; Kong, L.; Su, J.; Liu, Y. Homogeneous isolation of nanocellulose from sugarcane bagasse by high pressure homogenization. Carbohydr. Polym. 2012, 90, 1609–1613. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  95. Hatakka, A. Pretreatment of wheat straw by white-rot fungi for enzymic saccharification of cellulose. Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 1983, 18, 350–357. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  96. Çağrı, A.; Ince, O.; Bozan, M.; Ozbayram, G.; Ince, B. Biological pretreatment with Trametes versicolor to enhance methane production from lignocellulosic biomass: A metagenomic approach. Ind. Crop. Prod. 2019, 140. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  97. Chen, S.; Zhang, X.; Singh, D.; Yu, H.; Yang, X. Biological pretreatment of lignocellulosics: Potential, progress and challenges. Biofuels 2010, 1, 177–199. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  98. Tanahashi, M. Characterization and degradation mechanisms of wood components by steam explosion and utilization of exploded wood. In Bulletin of the Wood Research Institute Kyoto University; Kyoto University Research Information Repository: Kyoto, Japan, 1990; Volume 77, pp. 49–117. [Google Scholar]
  99. Gregg, D.; Saddler, J.N. A Techno-Economic Assessment of the Pretreatment and Fractionation Steps of a Biomass-to-Ethanol Process. In Seventeenth Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals; Humana Press: Totowa, NJ, USA, 1996; Volume 57, pp. 711–727. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  100. De Souza, C.G.M.; Tychanowicz, G.K.; De Souza, D.F.; Peralta, R.M. Production of laccase isoforms byPleurotus pulmonarius in response to presence of phenolic and aromatic compounds. J. Basic Microbiol. 2004, 44, 129–136. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  101. Galbe, M.; Zacchi, G. A review of the production of ethanol from softwood. Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 2002, 59, 618–628. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  102. Mtui, G.Y.S. Trends in industrial and environmental biotechnology research in Tanzania. Afr. J. Biotechnol. 2007, 6, 2860–2867. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  103. Ubalua, A.O. Cassava wastes: Treatment options and value addition alternatives. Afr. J. Biotechnol. 2007, 6, 2065–2073. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  104. Demirbaş, A. Utilization of Urban and Pulping Wastes to Produce Synthetic Fuel via Pyrolysis. Energy Sources 2002, 24, 205–213. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  105. Guerra, A.; Mendonça, R.; Ferraz, A. Molecular weight distribution of wood components extracted from Pinus taeda biotreated by Ceriporiopsis subvermispora. Enzym. Microb. Technol. 2003, 33, 12–18. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  106. Maijala, P.; Kleen, M.; Westin, C.; Poppius-Levlin, K.; Herranen, K.; Lehto, J.; Reponen, P.; Mäentausta, O.; Mettälä, A.; Hatakka, A. Biomechanical pulping of softwood with enzymes and white-rot fungus Physisporinus rivulosus. Enzym. Microb. Technol. 2008, 43, 169–177. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  107. Wan, C.; Li, Y. Microbial pretreatment of corn stover with Ceriporiopsis subvermispora for enzymatic hydrolysis and ethanol production. Bioresour. Technol. 2010, 101, 6398–6403. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  108. Oyeleke, S.B.; Dauda, B.E.N.; Oyewole, O.A.; Okoliegbe, I.N.; Ojebode, T. Production of bioethanol from cassava and sweet potato peels. Ad. Environ. Biol 2011, 5, 3729–3733. [Google Scholar]
  109. Taha, M.; Shahsavari, E.; Al-Hothaly, K.; Mouradov, A.; Smith, A.; Ball, A.; Adetutu, E.M. Enhanced Biological Straw Saccharification Through Coculturing of Lignocellulose-Degrading Microorganisms. Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol. 2015, 175, 3709–3728. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  110. Song, L.; Yu, H.; Ma, F.; Zhang, X. Biological Pretreatment under Non-sterile Conditions for Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Corn Stover. Bioresources 2013, 8, 3802–3816. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  111. Du, W.; Yu, H.; Song, L.; Zhang, J.; Weng, C.; Ma, F.; Zhang, X. The promoting effect of byproducts from Irpex lacteus on subsequent enzymatic hydrolysis of bio-pretreated cornstalks. Biotechnol. Biofuels 2011, 4, 37. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  112. Zhang, Q.; He, J.; Tian, M.; Mao, Z.; Tang, L.; Zhang, J.; Zhang, H. Enhancement of methane production from cassava residues by biological pretreatment using a constructed microbial consortium. Bioresour. Technol. 2011, 102, 8899–8906. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  113. Passos, F.; Hom-Diaz, A.; Blanquez, P.; Vicent, T.; Ferrer, I. Improving biogas production from microalgae by enzymatic pretreatment. Bioresour. Technol. 2016, 199, 347–351. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  114. Ali, S.S.; Al-Tohamy, R.; Manni, A.; Luz, F.C.; Elsamahy, T.; Sun, J. Enhanced digestion of bio-pretreated sawdust using a novel bacterial consortium: Microbial community structure and methane-producing pathways. Fuel 2019, 254, 115604. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  115. Guo, H.; Zhao, Y.; Chen, X.; Shao, Q.; Qin, W. Pretreatment of Miscanthus with biomass-degrading bacteria for increasing delignification and enzymatic hydrolysability. Microb. Biotechnol. 2019, 12, 787–798. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  116. Machado, A.D.S.; Ferraz, A. Biological pretreatment of sugarcane bagasse with basidiomycetes producing varied patterns of biodegradation. Bioresour. Technol. 2017, 225, 17–22. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  117. Castoldi, R.; Bracht, A.; de Morais, G.R.; Baesso, M.L.; Corrêa, R.C.G.; Peralta, R.; Moreira, R.; Polizeli, M.D.L.; de Souza, C.G.M.; Peralta, R.M. Biological pretreatment of Eucalyptus grandis sawdust with white-rot fungi: Study of degradation patterns and saccharification kinetics. Chem. Eng. J. 2014, 258, 240–246. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  118. Kumar, M.N.; Ravikumar, R.; Sankar, M.K.; Thenmozhi, S. New insight into the effect of fungal mycelia present in the bio-pretreated paddy straw on their enzymatic saccharification and optimization of process parameters. Bioresour. Technol. 2018, 267, 291–302. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  119. Jagtap, S.; Dhiman, S.; Kim, T.-S.; Li, J.; Kang, Y.C.; Lee, J.-K. Characterization of a β-1,4-glucosidase from a newly isolated strain of Pholiota adiposa and its application to the hydrolysis of biomass. Biomass-Bioenergy 2013, 54, 181–190. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  120. Dhiman, S.S.; Haw, J.-R.; Kalyani, D.; Kalia, V.C.; Kang, Y.C.; Lee, J.-K. Simultaneous pretreatment and saccharification: Green technology for enhanced sugar yields from biomass using a fungal consortium. Bioresour. Technol. 2015, 179, 50–57. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  121. Jagtap, S.; Dhiman, S.; Kim, T.-S.; Li, J.; Lee, J.-K.; Kang, Y.C. Enzymatic hydrolysis of aspen biomass into fermentable sugars by using lignocellulases from Armillaria gemina. Bioresour. Technol. 2013, 133, 307–314. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  122. Zhu, J.Y.; Sabo, R.; Luo, X. Integrated production of nano-fibrillated cellulose and cellulosic biofuel (ethanol) by enzymatic fractionation of wood fibers. Green Chem. 2011, 13, 1339–1344. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  123. Henriksson, M.; Berglund, L.; Lindström, T. An environmentally friendly method for enzyme-assisted preparation of microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) nanofibers. Eur. Polym. J. 2007, 43, 3434–3441. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  124. Tsukamoto, J.; Durán, N.; Tasic, L. Nanocellulose and Bioethanol Production from Orange Waste using Isolated Microorganisms. J. Braz. Chem. Soc. 2013, 24, 1537–1543. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  125. de Camargo, L.A.; Pereira, S.C.; Correa, A.C.; Farinas, C.S.; Marconcini, J.M.; Mattoso, L.H.C. Feasibility of Manufacturing Cellulose Nanocrystals from the Solid Residues of Second-Generation Ethanol Production from Sugarcane Bagasse. BioEnergy Res. 2016, 9, 894–906. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  126. Martelli-Tosi, M.; Torricillas, M.D.S.; Martins, M.A.; De Assis, O.B.G.; Tapia-Blácido, D.R. Using Commercial Enzymes to Produce Cellulose Nanofibers from Soybean Straw. J. Nanomater. 2016, 2016, 1–10. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  127. Beltramino, F.; Roncero, M.B.; Vidal, T.; Torres, A.L.; Valls, C. Increasing yield of nanocrystalline cellulose preparation process by a cellulase pretreatment. Bioresour. Technol. 2015, 192, 574–581. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed] [Green Version]
Figure 1. Overview of the complex structure of natural fibers and pretreatments.
Figure 1. Overview of the complex structure of natural fibers and pretreatments.
Polymers 13 02971 g001
Figure 2. Different pretreatments, which fall into four main categories: physical, chemical, biological, and combination have been used to improve lignocellulosic fractionation for natural fibres.
Figure 2. Different pretreatments, which fall into four main categories: physical, chemical, biological, and combination have been used to improve lignocellulosic fractionation for natural fibres.
Polymers 13 02971 g002
Figure 3. The phylogenetic tree of the (a) bacterial and (b) fungus communities found in hemp fibre samples. The color of the branches indicates the type of proteobacteria present, while the color of the tag indicates the number of bacteria/fungi present on different days [28].
Figure 3. The phylogenetic tree of the (a) bacterial and (b) fungus communities found in hemp fibre samples. The color of the branches indicates the type of proteobacteria present, while the color of the tag indicates the number of bacteria/fungi present on different days [28].
Polymers 13 02971 g003
Figure 4. Schematic design of superheated steam pretreatment. Reprinted with permission from ref. [31]. 2018 Universiti Putra Malaysia.
Figure 4. Schematic design of superheated steam pretreatment. Reprinted with permission from ref. [31]. 2018 Universiti Putra Malaysia.
Polymers 13 02971 g004
Figure 5. Schematic diagram of steam explosion process. Page: 11 Reprinted with permission from ref. [51]. 2016 Elsevier.
Figure 5. Schematic diagram of steam explosion process. Page: 11 Reprinted with permission from ref. [51]. 2016 Elsevier.
Polymers 13 02971 g005
Table 1. Recent review articles related to greener pretreatment approaches for lignocellulosic biomass.
Table 1. Recent review articles related to greener pretreatment approaches for lignocellulosic biomass.
No.TitleHighlights of ReviewRef.
1.Enzymatic pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass for enhanced biomethane production-A review
  • Reviews the anaerobic digestion process, challenges in degrading lignocellulosic materials, the current status of research to improve the biogas rate and yield from the anaerobic digestion of lignocellulosic biomass via enzymatic pretreatment, and the future trend in research for the reduction of enzymatic pretreatment cost
2.A review on the environment-friendly emerging techniques for pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass: Mechanistic insight and advancement
  • Discusses the important aspects of the emerging pretreatment techniques of lignocellulosic biomass including the advancements, and the mechanistic insight for large scale of commercial implementation in a lignocellulosic biorefinery.
3.Recent Insights into Lignocellulosic Biomass Pyrolysis: A Critical Review on Pretreatment, Characterization, and Products Upgrading
  • Provides an outline of the pyrolysis process including physical and chemical pretreatment of biomass, pyrolysis mechanism, and process products upgrading.
4.Recent advances in the pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass for biofuels and value-added products
  • Briefly presents recent findings on the chemical pretreatment for the conversion of lignocellulosic materials into fuel and value-added products.
5.Emerging technologies for the pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass
  • Reviews the application of emerging technologies in chemical and mechanical pretreatment.
Table 2. Highlights of ultrastructural changes on hemp stems and fibres associated with microbial activity during the retting process [29].
Table 2. Highlights of ultrastructural changes on hemp stems and fibres associated with microbial activity during the retting process [29].
Retting Period0 Days7 Days14–20 DaysAfter 50 Days
Changes in the hemp stem’s and fibre’s ultrastructure(i) Stem with a well-preserved layered structure
(ii) Un-collapsed, unbroken cells with their original cell geometry
(iii) Living cells with cytoplasm
(iv) Cuticle and trichomes are unharmed on the clear surface.
(v) Chloroplasts in abundance in the upper epidermis
(i) The structure as a whole is in good condition.
(ii) Fungal growth on the outside of the stems and inside the stems
(iii) With damaged epidermis and parenchyma, cellular architecture is less stable.
(i) Cuticle has seriously deteriorated.
(ii) Changes in cellular anatomy, as well as significant loss of live cells
(iii) Fibre bundles were isolated from each other and the epidermis.
(iv) Thick-walled cells populate seldom; parenchyma degrades completely, although chlorenchyma suffers less harm.
(v) Bast fibres with sporadic moderate attacks
(vi) Fungi colonisation and decay morphology were both affected by fibre morphology.
(i) The structure of hemp was severely harmed and dissolved.
(ii) The epidermis and cambium were heavily invaded by dominating bacteria.
(iii) In the bast regions, the parenchyma cells have been destroyed, and the structural integrity has been lost.
(iv) All cell types, including fibre cells, have hyphae inside their lumina.
(v) BFIs are more intense inside the stem.
(vi) Anatomy and ultrastructure have been severely harmed.
(vii) Bast fibres with a thick wall and degradation properties
(viii) Effects on the ultrastructure of the fibre wall.
  • CML loosening/degradation, resulting in delamination and defibration
  • The S3 layer is loosening and decaying
  • Delamination within the S2 trans wall and intra wall cracks in the S2 layer have a noticeable effect
  • S2 materials have been removed directly (e.g., S2 thinning, broken S2, and disintegration into nanosized cellulose fibrillar structures)
The dynamics and activity of microbesFungi
(i) Rarely seen Bacteria
(ii) Not observed Fungi
(i) Mycelia with sparse growth
(ii) Less variety
(iii) Outside of the cortical layers, colonisation occurs largely in live cells.
(iv) Trichomes near to the surface trichomes have dense colonisation.
(v) Dependence on readily available food
(vi) Damage to cell walls is reduced.
(i) Less abundant
(i) Extensive and plentiful
(ii) Mycelia densely covering the cuticle
(iii) diverse population
(iv) a large number of spores
(v) Interactions and activities that are intense
(i) Abundant
(ii) Diverse population
iii) Over the cuticle, colonies
(iv) Associated with hyphae and fungal spores
(v) After 20 days, there are more noticeable activity
(vi) Cuticle has severely deteriorated
(i) Less abundant on the outside of the stem
(ii) Mycelia on the surface is dead, but there are active hyphae inside the stem
(iii) Mycelia, an invading bacteria’s sole source of nourishment, showed bacterial mycophagy (i.e., extracellular and endocellular biotrophic and extracellular necrotrophic activities).
(i) Highly abundant inside and outside the stems
(ii) Highly dominant and diverse role.
(iii) Visible as dense overlay representing
(a) Biofilms
(b) Morphologically different
(c) Randomly scattered cells
(iv) Showed strong BFIs
(v) Using fungal highways, bacterial movement occurs over and inside the hemp stem.
(vi) Cutinolytic and cellulolytic activities were improved.
Table 3. Previous research on biological-chemical pretreatment approaches to pretreat lignocellulosic biomass. Data retrieved from Ref. [54].
Table 3. Previous research on biological-chemical pretreatment approaches to pretreat lignocellulosic biomass. Data retrieved from Ref. [54].
SubstrateConditionsComponent’s Degradation (%)
1st Step2nd StepLigninHemicelluloseCellulose
Biological—alkaline pretreatment
Corn stalksIrpex lacteus (28 °C, 15 d)0.25 M NaOH solution
(75 °C, 2 h)
Populus tomentosaTrametes velutina D10149 (28 °C, 28 d)70% (v/v) ethanol aqueous solution containing 1%(w/v) NaOH (75 °C, 3 h)23.0822.2218.91
Willow sawdustLeiotrametes menziesii (27 °C, 30 d)1% (w/v) NaOH (80 °C, 24 h)59.868.151.2
Abortiporus biennis (27 °C, 30 d)54.251.829.1
Biological—acid pretreatment
Populus tomentosaTrametes velutina D1014 (28 °C, 56 d)1% sulphuric acid (140 °C, 1 h)23.8275.96(+) 18.74
Oil palm empty fruit bunchesPleurotus floridanus LIPIMC996 (31 °C, 28 d)Ball milled at 29.6/s for 4 min. Phosphoric acid treatment (50 °C, 5 h)(+) 8.2960.63(+) 37.52
Olive tree biomassIrpex lacteus (Fr.238 617/93) (30 °C, 28 d)2% w/v H2SO4 (130 °C, 1.5 h)(+) 105.8275.29(+) 62.95
Biological—oxidative pretreatment
Corn StrawEchinodontium taxodii (25 °C, 15 d)0.0016% NaOH and 3% H2O2 (25 °C, 16 h)52.0023.64(+) 45.45
Hemp chipsPleurotus eryngii (28 °C, 21 d)3% NaOH and 3% (v/v) H2O2 (40 °C, 24 h)55.723.225.1
Biological—organosolv pretreatment
Sugarcane strawCeriporiopsis subvermispora (27 °C, 15 d)Acetosolv pulping (Acetic acid with 0.3% w/w HCl) (120 °C, 5 h86.893.832.1
Pinus radiataGloeophyllum trabeum (27 °C, 28 d)60% ethanol in water solvent (200 °C, 1 h)74.2680.74-
Biological—liquid hot water (LHW) pretreatment
SoybeanLiquid Hot water (170 °C, 3 min, 400 rpm, 110 psi, solid to liquid ratio of 1:10)Ceriporiopsis subvermispora (28 °C, 18 d)36.6941.340.84
Corn stover41.9942.917.09
Wheat strawHot water extraction (HWE) (85 °C, 10 min, solid to liquid ratio of 1:20)Ceriporiopsis subvermispora (28 °C, 18 d)24.8713.191.86
Corn stover30.0928.144.96
Biological—steam explosion pretreatment
Beech woodmealPhanerochaete chrysosporium (37 °C, 28 d)Steam explosion (215 °C, 6.5 min)42.00--
Sawtooth oak, corn and branLentinula edodes (120 d)Steam explosion (214 °C, 5 min, 20 atm)17.180.43(+) 5.19
(+): represents the increment in fibre content.
Table 4. Purposes of the pretreatment strategies and their advantages and disadvantages.
Table 4. Purposes of the pretreatment strategies and their advantages and disadvantages.
PretreatmentsPreferred Natural FibresPurposesAdvantagesDisadvantages
PhysicalHardwoods and agricultural residuesEnhance the digestibility of lignocellulosic biomass by increase the available specific surface area, and reduce both the degree of polymerisation and cellulose crystallinity(1) No recycling cost
(2) No chemical usage
(3) Increase biogas, bioethanol and biohydrogen yields
(1) Excessive size reduction decreases biofuel production
(2) Formation of fermentation inhibitors at high temperature
(3) Incomplete digestion of lignin-carbohydrate matrix
(4) The need to wash the hydrolysate decreases sugar yield
(5) High energy requirement
BiologicalHardwoods, softwoods, and agricultural residuesLeverage the action of fungi capable of producing enzymes that can degrade lignin, hemicellulose, and polyphenols(1) The depolymerisation is very selective and efficient
(2) Low-capital cost
(3) Low energy requirement
(4) No chemicals requirement
(5) Mild process conditions
(1) The rate of biological pretreatment is too slow for industrial purposes (10–14 days)
(2) Require careful growth conditions and a large amount of space
(3) A fraction of carbohydrate is consumed by the microbes, thus reduces the sugar yield
Table 5. A summary of physical pretreatments applied for numerous applications.
Table 5. A summary of physical pretreatments applied for numerous applications.
BioproductsNatural FibresPretreatmentsConditionsYield Improvement/Product PropertiesReferences
BiohydrogenCorn stoverSteam explosion1.5 Mpa and 198 °C for 1.5 min51.9 L H2 kg−1 TS *[79]
Rice strawHydrothermalpH 7.0, 210 °C, 15.4 °C min−1, and 20% TS28.0 mL H2 g−1 VS *[80]
BiomethaneSugarcane bagasseHydrolysis178.6 °C, 43.4 min, and solid to liquid ratio of 0.241.56 Nm3 CH4 kg−1 TOC *[81]
Wheat strawMicrowave irradiation260 °C, 33 bars, 3 min28%[82]
Pennisetum hybrid12%[83]
Blend of maize, ryegrass, and rice strawExtrusionExit slit opened at 60%11.5–13.4%[84]
HaySteam explosion220 °C for 15 min16%[85]
Vine trimming shootExtrusion200 g h−1 feed rate51–58% hemicellulose reduction, 15.7–21.4% CH4 increased[78]
BiosugarWheat strawSupercritical CO2 & steam explosionA steam explosion at 200 °C for 15 min and supercritical CO2 of 12 MPa at 190 °C for 60 min36.5%[86]
Poplar wood chipsMechanical pulping & steamDisc clearance set 0.5–0.1 mm for mechanical pulping and steam pretreatment at 210 °C for 5 min76%[87]
Poplar woodSteam explosion180 °C and 18 min94%[88]
Cane bagasseHydrothermal200 °C4 mg xylose ml−1 *[89]
Pinewood240 °C and 10 min32% **[90]
Rapeseed meal260 °C and 10 min51 g glucose kg−1 *[91]
NanocellulosePoplar woodSteam explosion2 MPa for 180 s13.2%[92]
CottonHigh-pressure homogenization80 MPa for 30 HPH10–20 nm in diameter, reduced thermal stability, and crystallinity[93]
Sugarcane bagasse10–20 nm in diameter, reduced thermal stability, and crystallinity[94]
Oil palm biomassSuperheated steam260 °C for 30 min<100 nm diameter, 27% crystallinity reduced[35]
* The highest yield obtained. ** In carbohydrate.
Table 6. A summary of biological pretreatments applied for numerous applications.
Table 6. A summary of biological pretreatments applied for numerous applications.
BioproductsNatural FibresType of Microbes/EnzymesHydrolysis ConditionsYield Improvement/Product PropertiesReferences
BiohydrogenCorn stoverClostridium cellulolyticum and hydrogen fermentation bacteria20 mL of medium, 5% (v/v) inoculum, 10 g L−1 carbon source, at 37 °C for 96 hrs40.3 L H2 kg−1 TS *[79]
BioethanolCorn stoverCeriporiopsis subvermispora28 °C for 18 days57.8% yield increased[107]
Corn stoverCeriporiopsis subvermispora28 °C for 35 days66.6% yield increased[107]
Potato and cassava peelGloeophyllum sepiarium and Pleurotus ostreatus28 °C for 7 days26% yield increased[108]
StrawNeosartorya fischeri–Myceliophthora thermophila and Aeromonas hydrophilaPseudomonas poae30–55 °C for 6 days7-fold yield increased[109]
Corn stoverIrpex lacteus28 °C for 42 days66.9% yield increased[110]
Corn stalks28 °C for 28 days82% yield increased[111]
BiomethaneWheat strawTrametes versicolorLaccase at 500 U/L, 25 °C for 6 days10–18% yield increase[96]
CassavaYeast and cellulolytic bacteria100 mL of PCS medium, at 55 °C for 12 h96.6% yield increased[112]
MicroalgaeEnzyme mix (cellulase, glucohydrolase and xylanase)1% enzyme mix, 37 °C for 24 hrs15% yield increased[113]
SawdustMethanobrevibacter thaueri MB-1, Methanosarcina acetivorans MB-2, and Methanococcus voltae MB 3.60 °C for 6 days92.2% yield increased[114]
BiosugarCorn stoverCeriporiopsis subvermispora28 °C for 5–7 days57–67% yield increase[107]
Silver grassBacillus, Pseudomonas, Exiguobacterium, and Aeromonas37 °C for 7 days2.2-fold yield increased[115]
Sugarcane bagasseCeriporiopsis submervispora27 °C for 60 days47% yield increased[116]
SawdustPleurotus pulmonarius28 °C for 30 days94.8% yield increased[117]
Paddy strawPleurotus florida25–29 °C for 28 days75.3% yield increased[118]
Rice strawPholiota adiposa25 °C for 120 h716 mg g−1 *[119]
Pholiota adipose and Armillaria gemina27 °C for 45 days74.2% yield increased[120]
Populus tomentiglandulosaArmillaria gemina SKU211430 °C for 48 h62% yield increased[121]
NanocelluloseEucalyptusEndoglucanase and cellobiohydrolase7 pH, 50 °C for 48 h20 nm diameter, >500 nm length[122]
Wood fibreEndoglucanase4.8 pH, 50 °C for 2 h5–30 nm diameter[123]
Orange residuesß-glucosidase4 pH, 50 °C for 48 h180 nm diameter, 1.3 mm length[124]
Sugarcane bagasseß-glucosidase and endoglucanase5 pH, 50 °C for 24 h14–18 nm diameter, 195–250 nm length[125]
Maple pulpCellic CTec 2 and Cellic HTec 2 (commercial enzymes)4.8 pH, 50 °C for 72 h5–10 nm diameter, 1 μm length[126]
Cotton lintersCellulase5 pH, 55 °C for 24 h35 nm diameter, 0.3 mm length[127]
* The highest yield obtained.
Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Share and Cite

MDPI and ACS Style

Norrrahim, M.N.F.; Huzaifah, M.R.M.; Farid, M.A.A.; Shazleen, S.S.; Misenan, M.S.M.; Yasim-Anuar, T.A.T.; Naveen, J.; Nurazzi, N.M.; Rani, M.S.A.; Hakimi, M.I.; et al. Greener Pretreatment Approaches for the Valorisation of Natural Fibre Biomass into Bioproducts. Polymers 2021, 13, 2971.

AMA Style

Norrrahim MNF, Huzaifah MRM, Farid MAA, Shazleen SS, Misenan MSM, Yasim-Anuar TAT, Naveen J, Nurazzi NM, Rani MSA, Hakimi MI, et al. Greener Pretreatment Approaches for the Valorisation of Natural Fibre Biomass into Bioproducts. Polymers. 2021; 13(17):2971.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Norrrahim, Mohd Nor Faiz, Muhammad Roslim Muhammad Huzaifah, Mohammed Abdillah Ahmad Farid, Siti Shazra Shazleen, Muhammad Syukri Mohamad Misenan, Tengku Arisyah Tengku Yasim-Anuar, Jesuarockiam Naveen, Norizan Mohd Nurazzi, Mohd Saiful Asmal Rani, Mohd Idham Hakimi, and et al. 2021. "Greener Pretreatment Approaches for the Valorisation of Natural Fibre Biomass into Bioproducts" Polymers 13, no. 17: 2971.

Note that from the first issue of 2016, this journal uses article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Metrics

Back to TopTop