Recent advancements and challenges in emerging applications of biochar-based catalysts

Xiangzhou Yuan, Yang Cao, Jie Li, Anil Kumar Patel, Cheng Di Dong, Xin Jin, Cheng Gu, Alex C.K. Yip, Daniel C.W. Tsang, Yong Sik Ok

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The sustainable utilization of biochar produced from biomass waste could substantially promote the development of carbon neutrality and a circular economy. Due to their cost-effectiveness, multiple functionalities, tailorable porous structure, and thermal stability, biochar-based catalysts play a vital role in sustainable biorefineries and environmental protection, contributing to a positive, planet-level impact. This review provides an overview of emerging synthesis routes for multifunctional biochar-based catalysts. It discusses recent advances in biorefinery and pollutant degradation in air, soil, and water, providing deeper and more comprehensive information of the catalysts, such as physicochemical properties and surface chemistry. The catalytic performance and deactivation mechanisms under different catalytic systems were critically reviewed, providing new insights into developing efficient and practical biochar-based catalysts for large-scale use in various applications. Machine learning (ML)-based predictions and inverse design have addressed the innovation of biochar-based catalysts with high-performance applications, as ML efficiently predicts the properties and performance of biochar, interprets the underlying mechanisms and complicated relationships, and guides biochar synthesis. Finally, environmental benefit and economic feasibility assessments are proposed for science-based guidelines for industries and policymakers. With concerted effort, upgrading biomass waste into high-performance catalysts for biorefinery and environmental protection could reduce environmental pollution, increase energy safety, and achieve sustainable biomass management, all of which are beneficial for attaining several of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG).

Original languageEnglish
Article number108181
JournalBiotechnology Advances
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Oct

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was carried out with the support of the Cooperative Research Program for Agriculture Science and Technology Development (Project No. PJ01475801) from the Rural Development Administration, the Republic of Korea. This work was also supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (MSIT) (No. 2021R1A2C2011734). This research was supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (NRF-2021R1A6A1A10045235). This research was partly supported by the OJEong Resilience Institute, Korea University, Korea and by the Start-up Research Fund of Southeast University (RF1028623274), China. This work was partly supported by Hong Kong Environment and Conservation Fund (Project 104/2021 ), and Hong Kong Research Grants Council ( PolyU 15222020 ), China.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors


  • Biodiversity
  • Carbon negative
  • Corporate sustainability
  • Gasification
  • Life cycle assessment (LCA)
  • Nature positive
  • Pyrolysis
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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