Li Shuai

Assistant Professor
Li Shuai photo
Department of Sustainable Biomaterials
Virginia Tech
230 Cheatham Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Dr. Shuai works on the conversion of biomass to fuels, chemicals, and materials. Dr. Shuai received his PhD degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to joining the department, he spent ten months as a postdoc in the Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation at the University of Delaware and one and a half years as a postdoc in EPFL in Switzerland and worked as a group leader in an industrial R&D department for two years. His work is focused on fundamentally understanding the degradation and condensation behaviors of lignocellulosic components during fractionation and upgrading processes, and designing innovative reaction pathways, solvent systems, and catalysts to improve product selectivity and yield.

Areas of Expertise

  • Biomass fractionation
  • Catalytic conversion of biomass to fuels and chemicals
  • Lignin chemistry and lignin valorization
  • Modification of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin
  • Biomass-based polymers and composites  


  • B.E., Materials Science and Engineering - Polymer and Composites, 2007, Southwest University of Science and Technology, China
  • Ph.D., Biological Systems Engineering - Biofuels and Bioproducts with Minor in Chemistry, 2012, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Ph.D. Research Award Gold Prize, International Academy of Wood Science (IAWS) 2014.

Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Student Fellowship Award. 

Biomass and Biorefineries

SBIO 3984 Fall 2018

Instructor: Li Shuai

Number of Students: 7

Book Chapter:

Shuai, L. Lignin condensation and lignin depolymerization. In Lignin: Biosynthesis, Functions, and Economic Significance. 2018 (In press)


Shuai, L. and J. Luterbacher. A practical way of producing lignin monomers in high yield from lignocellulosic biomass. European Patent App. 16165180.7, 2016.

Shuai, L. and R. Hao. A method of preparing cellulose nanocrystal and its purification. Chinese patent ZL201210594426.5, 2016.

Shuai, L. and J. Zhang. A method of preparing xylooligosaccharides. CN103333932A, 2013.

Hao, R., L. Liu and L. Shuai. A formulation of soaping & rinsing enzyme complex and its application. CN102899195A, 2012.

Shuai, L. and X. Pan. Saccharification of lignocellulosic biomass. US9187790 B2, 2015.

Shuai, L. and X. Pan. A method for producing liquid hydrocarbon fuels directly from lignocellulosic biomass. US Patent 9487712, 2016.

Hao, R., L. Liu and L. Shuai. Chinese patent ZL201210404706.5, 2013

Synthesis of completely biobased lignin-formaldehyde resins with catalytically activated lignin products

Investigator: Li Shuai
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Amount: $300,000
September 01, 2018 - August 31, 2021



Li, Y., L. Shuai, H. Kim, A. H. Motagamwala, J. K. Mobley, F. Yue, Y. Tobimatsu, D. Havkin-Frenkel, F. Chen, R. A. Dixon, J. S. Luterbacher, J. A. Dumesic and J. Ralph. An “ideal lignin” facilitates full biomass utilization. Science Advances, 2018. (In press)

Wang, S., L. Shuai, B. Saha,, D. G. Vlachos and T. Epps. From Tree to Tape: Direct Synthesis of Pressure Sensitive Adhesives from Depolymerized Raw Lignocellulosic Biomass. ACS Central Science, 2018, 4, 701–708. (Front cover)

Shuai, L., J. Sitison, S. Sadula, J. Ding, M. C. Thies, and B. Saha. Selective C–C bond cleavage of methylene-linked lignin models and kraft lignin. ACS Catalysis, 2018, 7, 6507–6512.

Shuai, L. and Basudeb Saha. Towards high-yield lignin monomer production. Green Chemistry. 2017,19 (16), 3681-3940.

Liu, J., R. Li, L. Shuai, J. You, Y. Zhao, L. Chen, M. Li, L. Chen, Li. Huang and X. Luo. Comparison of liquid hot water (LHW) and high boiling alcohol/water (HBAW) pretreatments for improving enzymatic saccharification of cellulose in bamboo. Industrial Crops and Products, 2017, 107, 139-148.

Shuai, L., M. T. Amiri, Y. M. Questell-Santiago, F. Héroguel, Y. Li, H. Kim, R. Meilan, C. Chapple, J. Ralph and J. Luterbacher. Formaldehyde-based stabilization facilitates lignin monomer production during biomass depolymerization. Science. 2016, 354, 329–333.

Shuai, L., M. T. Amiri, and J. Luterbacher. The influence of lignin’s interunit carbon–carbon linkages during its upgrading. Current Opinion in Green and Sustainable Chemistry. 2016, 2, 58–63.

Shuai, L., Y. M. Questell-Santiago and J. Luterbacher. A mild biomass pretreatment using γ-valerolactone for concentrated sugar production. Green Chemistry. 2016, 18, 937-943.

Shuai, L. and J. Luterbacher. Organic solvent effects in biomass conversion reactions. Chemsuschem. 2016, 9, 133-155.

Shuai, L. and X. Pan. Hydrolysis of cellulose by cellulase-mimetic solid catalyst. Energy and Environmental Science. 2012, 5, 6889-6894.

Li, X., Y. Jiang, L. Shuai and X. Mu. Sulfonated copolymers with SO3H and COOH groups for the hydrolysis of polysaccharides. Journal of Materials Chemistry. 2012, 22, 1283.

Yang, J., H. Xiang and Li Shuai, Sundaram Gunasekaran. A sensitive enzymeless hydrogen-peroxide sensor based on epitaxially-grown Fe3O4 thin film. Analytica chimica acta. 2011, 12, 44-51.

Shuai, L., Q. Yang, J. Zhu, F. Lu, J. Ralph and X. Pan. Comparative study of SPORL and dilute-acid pretreatments of spruce for cellulosic ethanol production. Bioresource Technology, 2010, 3106-3114.

Yang, Q. L. Shuai, J. Zhou, F. Lu and X. Pan. Functionalization of multiwalled carbon nanotubes by pyrene-labeled hydroxypropyl cellulose. Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 2008, 112, 12934-12939.

Yang, Q., L. Shuai and X. Pan. Synthesis of fluorescent chitosan and its application in noncovalent functionalization of carbon nanotubes. Biomacromolecules, 2008, 9, 3422-3426.