A Review of Potential of Lignocellulosic Biomass for Bioethanol Production in Kenya

Main Article Content

John Odhiambo Otieno
Fredrick Onyango Ogutu


Lignocellulosic biomass is the earth’s most abundant and renewable resource, and, lignin is its strongest component. The lignocellulosic biomass has a potential to produce bioethanol for both domestic and industrial use. The presence of lignin in the biomass, however, hinders the processing and production of bioethanol from the biomass. Hence, to enhance the chances of bioethanol production from the lignocellulosic biomass, lignin has to be pre-treated. The pre-treatment process efficiently separates the interlinked complex components. During the pre-treatment process, the strong lignin component that is highly resistant and a major barrier to solubilization is broken down by hydrolysis of cellulose and hemicellulose. Pre-treatment of lignocellulosic biomass is therefore, necessary to make it more susceptible to microorganisms, enzymes, and pathogens. The initial pre-treatment approaches include physical, physicochemical, and biological methods. The major drawback of this pre-treatment process is its cost implications, as it’s very costly. Studies suggest that even though it’s a costly affair, the pre-treatment methods, however, have a significant impact on the efficient production of ethanol from biomass.

Situation Analysis: Bioethanol production from lignocellulosic biomass has mostly been undertaken in Brazil, USA, China, and India. In Kenya, however, little research on bioethanol production from lignocellulosic biomass has been done and adopted. The present review paper seeks to outlay the benefits of bioethanol production from lignocellulosic biomass, the composition of lignocellulosic biomass, its properties, different pre-treatment methods alongside advantages, and, disadvantages, and challenges encountered during bioethanol production. This review eventually will be of great assistance to researchers while developing bioethanol from different lignocellulosic biomass. Research, technology adaption/adaptation, and policy targeted at growing bioethanol industry, could enable Kenya to grow her bioethanol industry.

Lignocellulosic biomass, lignin, pre-treatment, Kenya

Article Details

How to Cite
Otieno, J. O., & Ogutu, F. O. (2020). A Review of Potential of Lignocellulosic Biomass for Bioethanol Production in Kenya. Asian Journal of Chemical Sciences, 8(2), 34-54. https://doi.org/10.9734/ajocs/2020/v8i219039
Review Article


Barasa SW. The potential for bioethanol fuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from household cooking in urban informal settlements: A case study of Kibera, Kenya. University of NairobI; 2018.

Bušić A, Mardetko N, Kundas S, Morzak G, Belskaya H, Šantek MI, et al. Bioethanol production from renewable raw materials and its separation and purification: A review. Food Technol Biotechnol. 2018;56:289–311.

Koehler N, Mccaherty J, Wilson C, Cooper G, Baker R, Markham S, et al. Ethanol Industry Outlook; 2019.

Limayem A, Ricke SC. Lignocellulosic biomass for bioethanol production: Current perspectives, potential issues and future prospects. Prog Energy Combust Sci [Internet]. Elsevier Ltd. 2012;38:449–67. Available:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pecs.2012.03.002

Smuga-Kogut M, Piskier T, Walendzik B, Szymanowska-Powałowska D. Assess-ment of wasteland derived biomass for bioethanol production. Electron J Biotechnol. 2019;41:1–8.

Casabar JT, Unpaprom Y, Ramaraj R. Fermentation of pineapple fruit peel wastes for bioethanol production. Biomass Convers Biorefinery. 2019;9:761–5.

Hernández C, Escamilla-Alvarado C, Sánchez A, Alarcón E, Ziarelli F, Musule R, et al. Wheat straw, corn stover, sugarcane, and agave biomasses: chemical properties, availability, and cellulosic-bioethanol production potential in Mexico. Biofuels, Bioprod Biorefining. 2019;13:1143–59.

Petersson A, Thomsen MH, Hauggaard-Nielsen H, Thomsen AB. Potential bioethanol and biogas production using lignocellulosic biomass from winter rye, oilseed rape and faba bean. Biomass and Bioenergy. 2007;31: 812–9.

Jahanbakhshi A, Salehi R. Processing watermelon waste using Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast and the fermentation method for bioethanol production. J Food Process Eng. 2019;42:1–10.

John I, Pola J, Appusamy A. Optimization of ultrasonic assisted saccharification of sweet lime peel for bioethanol production using box–behnken method. waste and biomass valorization [Internet]. Springer Netherlands. 2019;10: 441–53.


Awedem Wobiwo F, Chaturvedi T, Boda M, Fokou E, Emaga TH, Cybulska I, et al. Bioethanol potential of raw and hydrothermally pretreated banana bulbs biomass in simultaneous saccharification and fermentation process with Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Biomass Convers Biorefinery. Biomass Conversion and Biorefinery. 2019;9:553–63.

Triwahyuni E, Muryanto, Sudiyani Y, Abimanyu H. The effect of substrate loading on simultaneous saccharification and fermentation process for bioethanol production from oil palm empty fruit bunches. Energy Procedia [Internet]. Elsevier B.V. 2015;6:138–46.


Sarkar N, Ghosh SK, Bannerjee S, Aikat K. Bioethanol production from agricultural wastes: An overview. Renew Energy [Internet]. Elsevier Ltd. 2012;37: 19–27.


Tayyab M, Noman A, Islam W, Waheed S, Arafat Y, Ali F, et al. Bioethanol production from lignocellulosic biomass by environment-friendly pretreatment methods: A review. Appl Ecol Environ Res. 2018;16:225–49.

Dias MOS, Ensinas AV, Nebra SA, Maciel Filho R, Rossell CEV, Maciel MRW. Production of bioethanol and other bio-based materials from sugarcane bagasse: Integration to conventional bioethanol production process. Chem Eng Res Des. 2009;87: 1206–16.

Mahalaxmi S, Williford C. Biochemical conversion of biomass to fuels. Handb. Clim. Chang. Mitig. Adapt. Second Ed; 2016.

Branco RHR, Serafim LS, Xavier AMRB. Second generation bioethanol production: On the use of pulp and paper industry wastes as feedstock. Fermentation. 2019; 5:1–30.

Gallagher P. Ethanol Industry Outlook. 2018;1–7.

EUBIA. Bioethanol – European Biomass Industry Association [Internet]; 2004.


Kumar R, Tabatabaei M, Karimi K, Horváth IS. Recent updates on lignocellulosic biomass derived ethanol - A review. Biofuel Res J. 2016;3:347–56.

Bensah EC, Mensah M. Chemical pretreatment methods for the production of cellulosic ethanol: Technologies and innovations. Int J Chem Eng; 2013.

Jahnavi G, Prashanthi GS, Sravanthi K, Rao LV. Status of availability of lignocellulosic feed stocks in India: Biotechnological strategies involved in the production of bioethanol. Renew Sustain Energy Rev [Internet]. Elsevier. 2017; 73:798–820.


Purohit P, Dhar S. Lignocellulosic biofuels in India: Current perspectives, potential issues and future prospects. AIMS Energy. 2018;6:453–86.

Europe IE. Assessment of sustainable lignocellulosic biomass potentials from Kenya for export to the European Union 2015 to 2030; 2016.

Kenya Ministry of Energy. Sessional paper No . 4 on energy: National Energy Policy. Natl Energy Policy; 2004;

Ndegwa G, Moraa V, Jamnadass R, Mowo J. Potential for biofuel feedstock in Kenya; 2011.


Deenanath ED, Iyuke S, Rumbold K. The bioethanol industry in sub-Saharan Africa: History, challenges, and prospects. J Biomed Biotechnol; 2012.

Gomez Jimenez I. Feasibility study on the use of sustainable aviation fuels; 2017.

Onifade TB, Wandiga SO, Bello IA, Jekanyinfa SO, Harvey PJ. Conversion of lignocellulose from palm (Elaeis guineensis) fruit fibre and physic (Jatropha curcas) nut shell into bio-oil. African J Biotechnol. 2017;16:2167–80.

Obiero C, Birech R, Maling’a JJ, Freyer B, Ng’etich K, Lang’at J. Performance and challenges of biofuel cropping systems in Kenyan smallholder farming systems: A case study on castor (Ricinus communis L.), jatropha (Jatropha curcas L.) and croton (Croton megalocarpus L.). Aust J Crop Sci. 2013;7:917–22.

Newman D, Mutimba S, Krain DE, Otieno D, Eckere DM van. Potential of sustainable biomass production in developing countries case study Kenya. Biomass. 2008;2–6.

Kang Q, Appels L, Tan T, Dewil R. Bioethanol from lignocellulosic biomass: Current findings determine research priorities. Sci World J; 2014.

Mohd Azhar SH, Abdulla R, Jambo SA, Marbawi H, Gansau JA, Mohd Faik AA, et al. Yeasts in sustainable bioethanol production: A review. Biochem Biophys Reports. 2017;10:52–61.

Wanambwa L, Ness B. Ethanol Fuel Production and Use in Kenya for Sustainable Development. 2005;40.


Guidelines V. Republic of Kenya Ministry of Health. 2013;1:1–29.

Access. Scaling up national and sub-national progress towards sdg 7 in Kenya (clean cooking and electrification ) Analysis of the energy Act No . 1 of 2019 : Mapping out key entry points for CSOs influencing acknowledgments. Nairobi; 2019.

Government of Kenya. The Energy Act, 2019. Kenya: Government of Kenya. 2019; 1–165.

Mokveld K, Eije S von. Final Energy report Kenya. Netherlands Enterp. Agency. Amsterdan; 2018.

Owiro D, Poquillon G, Njonjo SK, Odour C. Situational analysis of energy industry, policy and strategy for energy industry, policy and strategy for Kenya. Inst. Econ. Aff; 2015.

Mumias restarts ethanol plant_ The Standard; 2020.

Gtz/Kenya ministry of agriculture. A roadmap for biofuels in Kenya opportunities & obstacles. Nairobi; 2008;1–137.

Mati BM, Thomas MK. Overview of sugar industry in Kenya and prospects for production at the coast. 2019;1477–85.

Ioelovich M. Recent findings and the energetic potential of plant biomass as a renewable source of biofuels - A review. BioResources. 2015;10:1879–914.

Mtui GYS. Recent advances in pretreatment of lignocellulosic wastes and production of value added products. African J Biotechnol. 2009;8:1398–415.

IRENA. Bioethanol in Africa: The case for technology transfer and South-South co-operation [Internet]. Int. Renew. Energy Agency; 2016.

Available from: https://www.irena.org/-/media/Files/IRENA/Agency/Publication/2016/IRENA_Bioethanol_in_Africa_2016.pdf

Chatel G, Rogers RD. Review: Oxidation of lignin using ionic liquids-an innovative strategy to produce renewable chemicals. ACS Sustain Chem Eng. 2014; 2:322–39.

Cannella D, Hsieh CWC, Felby C, Jørgensen H. Production and effect of aldonic acids during enzymatic hydrolysis of lignocellulose at high dry matter content. Biotechnol Biofuels. 2012; 5:1–10.

Li M, He B, Li J, Zhao L. Physico-chemical characterization and comparison of microcrystalline cellulose from several lignocellulosic sources. Bio Resources. 2019;14:7886–900.

Ii TC, Universit T, Pr KH, Lercher JA, Rieger B, Haller GL, et al. Selective cleavage of C-O bonds and hydrodeoxygenation of lignin fragment molecules Jiayue He; 2014.

Purohit P, Fischer DG. Second-generation biofuel potential in India: Sustainability and cost considerations. Report from UNEP [Internet]; 2014.


Swann WFG. Mass and energy. J Franklin Inst. 1932;213:63–74.

Nikolić S, Pejin J, Mojović L. Izazovi u proizvodnji bioetanola: Korišāenje pamučnih tkanina kao sirovine. Chem Ind Chem Eng Q. 2016;22:375–90.

Rocha-Meneses L, Raud M, Orupõld K, Kikas T. Second-generation bioethanol production: A review of strategies for waste valorisation. Agron Res. 2017;15: 830–47.

Dahiya S, Goyal S. Pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass for bioethanol production: A brief review. Res Rev J Agric Sci Technol. 2018;5:1–7.

Bioenergy IEA. Contribution of bioenergy to the world ’ s future energy; 2007.

Shirkavand E, Baroutian S, Gapes DJ, Young BR. Pretreatment of Radiata pine using two white rot fungal strains Stereum hirsutum and Trametes versicolor. Energy Convers Manag [Internet]. Elsevier Ltd. 2017;142:13–9.


Elder M, Prabhakar S, Romero J, Matsumoto N. Prospects and challenges of biofuels in Asia: Policy implications. Clim Chang Policies Asia- Pacific Re-Uniting Clim Chang Sustain Dev [Internet]. 2008; 105–31.


Ahorsu R, Medina F, Constantí M. Significance and challenges of biomass as a suitable feedstock for bioenergy and biochemical production: A review. Energies. 2018;11.

Galvan RF, Barranco V, Galvan JC, Batlle, Sebastian FeliuFajardo S, García. We are Intech Open, the world’s leading publisher of Open Access books Built by scientists, for scientists TOP 1 %. Intech [Internet]. 2016;1:13.


Barakat A, Mayer-Laigle C, Solhy A, Arancon RAD, De Vries H, Luque R. Mechanical pretreatments of lignocellulosic biomass: Towards facile and environmentally sound technologies for biofuels production. RSC Adv [Internet]. Royal Society of Chemistry; 2014;4: 48109–27.


Jurisic V, Julson JL, Kricka T, Curic D, Voca N, Karunanithy C. Effect of Extrusion pretreatment on enzymatic hydrolysis of miscanthus for the purpose of ethanol production. J Agric Sci. 2015;7:132–42.

Harmsen P, Bermudez L, Bakker R. Literature review of physical and chemical pretreatment processes for lignocellulosic biomass. 2010;49;1–49.

Chiaramonti D, Giovannini A, Janssen R, Mergner R. Lignocellulosic ethanol production plant by biochemtex in Italy lignocellulosic ethanol process and demonstration A handbook part I [Internet]; 2013.

Available from: www.wip-munich.de

Kumar AK, Sharma S. Recent updates on different methods of pretreatment of lignocellulosic feedstocks: A review. Bioresour Bioprocess. Springer Berlin Heidelberg; 2017;4.

Cheah WY, Sankaran R, Show PL, Tg. Ibrahim TNB, Chew KW, Culaba A, et al. Pretreatment methods for lignocellulosic biofuels production: current advances, challenges and future prospects. Biofuel Res J. 2020;7:1115–27.

Zhou S, Zhang Y, Dong Y. Pretreatment for biogas production by anaerobic fermentation of mixed corn stover and cow dung. Energy [Internet]. Elsevier Ltd; 2012; 46:644–8.


Pereira N, Couto M, Anna LS. Biomass of lignocellulosic composition for fuel ethanol production and the context of biorefinery [Internet]. Ser. Biotechnol; 2008.


Zhao W, Zhao F, Zhang S, Gong Q, Chen G. Ethanol production by simultaneous saccharification and cofermentation of pretreated corn stalk. J Basic Microbiol. 2019;59.

Matsutani A, Harada T, Ozaki S, Takaoka T. Inhibitory effects of combination of CDDP and cepharanthin on the cultured cells from rat ascites hepatoma. J. Japan Soc. Cancer Ther; 1993.

Lee HR, Kazlauskas RJ, Park TH. One-step pretreatment of yellow poplar biomass using peracetic acid to enhance enzymatic digestibility. Sci Rep [Internet]. Springer US. 2017;7:1–10.


Smichi N, Messaoudi Y, Allaf K, Gargouri M. Steam explosion (SE) and instant controlled pressure drop (DIC) as thermo-hydro-mechanical pretreatment methods for bioethanol production. Bioprocess Biosyst Eng [Internet]. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. 2020;43:945–57.


Jacquet N, Maniet G, Vanderghem C, Delvigne F, Richel A. Application of steam explosion as pretreatment on lignocellulosic material: A review. Ind Eng Chem Res. 2015;54:2593–8.

Baruah J, Nath BK, Sharma R, Kumar S, Deka RC, Baruah DC, et al. Recent trends in the pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass for value-added products. Front Energy Res. 2018;6:1–19.

Seidel C-M. Steam explosion pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass for advanced biofuels [Internet]. Brisk Bin. Robust Invariant Scalable Keypoints. ETH ZURICH; 2009.


Ziegler-Devin I, Menana Z, Chrusciel L, Chalot M, Bert V, Brosse N. Steam explosion pretreatment of willow grown on phytomanaged soils for bioethanol production. Ind Crops Prod [Internet]. Elsevier. 2019;140:111722.


Alinia R, Zabihi S, Esmaeilzadeh F, Kalajahi JF. Pretreatment of wheat straw by supercritical CO2 and its enzymatic hydrolysis for sugar production. Biosyst Eng [Internet]. IAgrE. 2010;107:61–6.


Rosero-Henao JC, Bueno BE, de Souza R, Ribeiro R, Lopes de Oliveira A, Gomide CA, et al. Potential benefits of near critical and supercritical pre-treatment of lignocellulosic biomass towards anaerobic digestion. Waste Manag Res. 2019;37:74–82.

Escobar ELN, da Silva TA, Pirich CL, Corazza ML, Pereira Ramos L. Supercritical fluids: A promising technique for biomass pretreatment and fractionation. Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 2020;8:1–18.

Fan Z. Enzymatic hydrolysis consolidated bioprocessing for ethanol production phospholipid-based surfactants; 2018

Kang Q, Appels L, Tan T, Dewil R. Bioethanol from lignocellulosic biomass: Current findings determine research priorities. Sci. World J.; 2014.

Selim KA, El-Ghwas DE, Easa SM, Abdelwahab Hassan MI. Bioethanol a microbial biofuel metabolite; New insights of yeasts metabolic engineering. Fermentation; 2018;4.

Horn SJ, Vaaje-Kolstad G, Westereng B, Eijsink VGH. Novel enzymes for the degradation of cellulose. Biotechnol Biofuels. 2012;5.

Yang Y, Boots K, Zhang D. A sustainable ethanol distillation system. Sustainability. 2012;4:92–105.

Mishra A, Ghosh S. Bioethanol production from various lignocellulosic feedstocks by a novel “fractional hydrolysis” technique with different inorganic acids and co-culture fermentation. Fuel. Elsevier. 2019; 236:544–53.

Katzen R, Madson PW. Chapter 18 Ethanol distillation : the fundamentals. Alcohol Textb A Ref beverage, fuel Ind alcohol Ind. 2009;269–88.

Gubicza K, Nieves IU, Sagues WJ, Barta Z, Shanmugam KT 5, Ingram LO. Techno-economic analysis of ethanol production from sugarcane bagasse using a Liquefaction 2 plus simultaneous saccharification and co-Fermentation process. 1393;93.

McAloon A, Taylor F, Yee W, Regional E, Ibsen K, Wooley R, et al. Determining the cost of producing ethanol from corn starch and lifgnocellulosic feedstocks. Golden (CO), National renewable energy laboratory; 2000.

Report no.: NREL/ TP-580-28893. Contract no. DE-AC36-99-GO10337. 2000.