Systematic review on lignin valorization in the agro-food system: from sources to applications

Ana C. Cassoni, Patrícia Costa, Marta W. Vasconcelos, Manuela Pintado*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Lignocellulosic biomass is the most abundant renewable resource on earth and currently most of this biomass is considered a low-value waste. Specifically, lignin is an underrated bioresource that is mostly burned for energy production and few value-added products have been created. Since the agro-food industry produces large amounts of wastes that can be potential sources of high-quality lignin, scientific efforts should be directed to this industry. Thus, this review provides a systematic overview of the trends and evolution of research on agro-food system-derived lignin (from 2010 to 2020), including the extraction of lignin from various agro-food sources and emergent applications of lignin in the agro-food chain. Crops with the highest average production/year (n = 26) were selected as potential lignin sources. The extraction process efficiency (yield) and lignin purity were used as indicators of the raw material potential. Overall, it is notable that research interest on agro-food lignin has increased exponentially over the years, both as source (567%) and application (128%). Wheat, sugarcane, and maize are the most studied sources and are the ones that render the highest lignin yields. As for the extraction methods used, alkaline and organosolv methods are the most employed (∼50%). The main reported applications are related to lignin incorporation in polymers (∼55%) and as antioxidant (∼24%). Studies on agro-food system-derived lignin is of most importance since there are numerous possible sources that are yet to be fully valorized and many promising applications that need to be further developed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number115258
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022


  • Agro-food
  • Applications
  • Extraction
  • Lignin
  • Sources
  • Valorization


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