Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Towards sustainable production and utilization of plant-biomass-based nanomaterials: a review and analysis of recent developments


Peter N. Ciesielski
Michael E. Himmel
Runan Gao
Yulin Deng
Maria Morits
Monika Österberg



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Forest Products Laboratory


Journal: Biotechnology for Biofuels


Plant-biomass-based nanomaterials have attracted great interest recently for their potential to replace petroleum-sourced polymeric materials for sustained economic development. However, challenges associated with sustainable production of lignocellulosic nanoscale polymeric materials (NPMs) need to be addressed. Producing materials from lignocellulosic biomass is a value-added proposition compared with fuel-centric approach. This report focuses on recent progress made in understanding NPMs—specifcally lignin nanoparticles (LNPs) and cellulosic nanomaterials (CNMs)—and their sustainable production. Special attention is focused on understanding key issues in nano-level deconstruction of cell walls and utilization of key properties of the resultant NPMs to allow flexibility in production to promote sustainability. Specifically, suitable processes for producing LNPs and their potential for scaled-up production, along with the resultant LNP properties and prospective applications, are discussed. In the case of CNMs, terminologies such as cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) and cellulose nanofbrils (CNFs) used in the literature are examined. The term cellulose nano-whiskers (CNWs) is used here to describe a class of CNMs that has a morphology similar to CNCs but without specifying its crystallinity, because most applications of CNCs do not need its crystalline characteristic. Additionally, progress in enzymatic processing and drying of NPMs is also summarized. Finally, the report provides some perspective of future research that is likely to result in commercialization of plant-based NPMs.


Zhu, J. Y.; Agarwal, Umesh P.; Ciesielski, Peter N.; Himmel, Michael E.; Gao, Runan; Deng, Yulin; Morits, Maria; Österberg, Monika. 2021. Towards sustainable production and utilization of plant-biomass-based nanomaterials: a review and analysis of recent developments. Biotechnology for Biofuels. 14(1): 114.


Publication Notes

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.