Brazil Government is promoting palm plantations to use degraded land for biofuels. Palm production is expected to increase 35 per cent in future and there would be profuse biomass available that needs to be handled efficiently. Therefore, in this study the potential of EFB from Brazil as raw material for biorefinery was explored by compositional analysis and pretreatment conditions optimization to produce ethanol and co-products. EFB from Brazil contains significant cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin and low ash content. The optimized dilute sulfuric acid pretreatment conditions for efficient cellulose and hemicellulose separation were 160 degrees C temperature, 1.025% v/v acid concentration, 10.5 min and 20% solid loading. Under optimum pretreatment process conditions, low enzyme loading (10 FPU, 20 IU cellulase and glucosidase enzyme/g glucan) and 15% solid loading, 51.1 g ethanol, 344.1 g solid residue (65% lignin and 24.87 MJ/kg LHV) and 3.7 l xylose rich liquid could be produced per kg dry EFB. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.