Over the past two decades, the use of biomass as a resource for biofuels and bioenergy has garnered much interest. The reduction in green house gas emissions of renewable fuels as compared to conventional fossil fuels, coupled with the sustainability of these technological approaches, has fostered increased research into this field. Switchgrass is a perennial grass native to North America, and as a feedstock for biofuels it has garnered much interest because of its high productivity, adaptability and potential ease of integration into existing agricultural operations. In order to maximize the use of switchgrass as an energy crop, the chemical constituents as well as the chemical processes involved in its conversion to biofuels need to be understood. The goal of this paper is to review the published work on the chemistry of switchgrass as it pertains to biofuel production including elemental composition, chemical composition, biopolymer constituents and their structure. In addition, the impacts of these chemical constituents on the biological conversion to ethanol and pyrolysis oils are summarized.
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